Why does coffee sometimes cause diarrhea


Who does not know it? You drink your obligatory cup of coffee in the morning and suddenly you have an uncomfortable feeling. But not only in the morning, but also at noon or in the afternoon, diarrhea often occurs after drinking coffee. Sometimes this effect is desired, but often it is also one unpleasant by-product of drinking coffee.

In addition to a genetic predisposition this is also due to the effect that coffee has on the body. The caffeine contained in coffee has a digestive effect on the gastrointestinal tract. There are also different manifestations from person to person, which leads to increased or reduced symptoms.

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Why does diarrhea occur when I drink coffee?

The fact that diarrhea occurs when drinking coffee can be explained by several factors. That contained in coffee caffeine contributes greatly to this. Caffeine stimulates the production and release of the in the human body Hormone gastrin into the bloodstream. Various intracellular mechanisms promote the movement of the muscles that are located in the intestinal wall. In addition, the Formation of stomach acid stimulated by specialized cells in the stomach. An increased secretion of gastric acid, in addition to a faster breakdown of the food components, may also result in abdominal pain.

Due to the faster decomposition, however, more food enters the intestine in a short time. This makes it more difficult to absorb all of the components, and with regard to diarrhea, especially the water. This effect is supported by the increased activity of the intestinal muscles. This one has faster passage of the chyme through the intestine, which in turn does not allow proper absorption of food components and, above all, water.

Another important aspect in the development of diarrhea when enjoying coffee is played by genetics. Not every person or every body reacts in the same way to caffeine. This leads to milder or stronger courses or even the absence of diarrhea.

Can that also be a coffee intolerance?

If diarrhea occurs after drinking coffee, it can also be caused by a Coffee intolerance be justified. The caffeine it contains does not necessarily have to be the cause of the symptoms. Some other components of coffee, such as biogenic amines, can trigger a similar reaction in the body.

Since the various types of coffee also differ in terms of their ingredients, it is worthwhile to to try other varieties. Espresso is also a popular alternative because the beans are roasted differently.

Can that also be the milk in the coffee?

Sometimes it also happens that the cause of the diarrhea after drinking coffee cannot be found in the caffeine or other ingredients in the coffee. For people with a Lactose intolerance or one Intolerance to cow's milk The milk in the coffee can also be the trigger for the diarrhea. After the body absorbs milk, a similar reaction occurs and diarrhea occurs. Most of the time, symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and flatulence are slightly delayed.

Read more on the subject at:Symptoms of lactose intolerance

Other accompanying symptoms

In addition to diarrhea, there are often some accompanying symptoms. Because of the high secretion of gastric acid in the stomach, frequent coffee consumption can quickly lead to the formation of stomach pain come. The mucous membrane is irritated by the acid.

Also occur frequently stomach pain on. This can happen due to the high activity of the intestine. Furthermore, the high activity of the intestinal muscles contributes to the development of Flatulence at. Due to the high proportion of chyme in the large intestine, the bacteria that settle there generate more gas.

Read more on the subject at:Abdominal pain from coffee


Flatulence is a common symptom of diarrhea after drinking coffee. The caffeine, which increases the motility of the intestinal muscles, is causative. Overall, there is one faster digestionresulting in an increased amount of chyme in the colon. The bacteria that normally reside here are able to produce a large amount of gas due to the high supply of food components. In addition to abdominal pain, this gas also causes the typical flatulence.

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stomach pain

Stomach pain is also very common in connection with diarrhea when drinking coffee. The caffeine increases the formation and secretion of gastrin. Gastrin, in turn, is a hormone that specialized cells in the lining of the stomach produce Gastric acid secretion stimulates. If coffee is consumed frequently, it can happen that the stomach lining is already irritated. As a result, even a small amount of caffeine, for example from drinking a cup of coffee, can increase gastric acid production so much that stomach pain occurs.

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stomach pain

Abdominal pain can often occur in combination with diarrhea when drinking coffee. The abdominal pain can extend over the entire abdomen or only affect a smaller area. You can choose between one cramping pain and distinguish a pain through a feeling of fullness.

On the one hand, the high activity of the intestinal muscles leads to cramps, which can cause pain. On the other hand, the feeling of pressure from diarrhea can be a burden and perceived as stomach pain. Furthermore, it comes from the possible high amount of gas in the context of Flatulence to a feeling of pressure and resistance. This, too, can cause abdominal pain.

Read more on the subject at:Abdominal pain from coffee


The problem of diarrhea and the possible accompanying symptoms after drinking coffee can be approached in different ways. First, however, you should be sure that the discomfort is caused by the coffee and not, for example, the added milk. You can try this out simply by leaving out the milk or even the coffee.

The simplest therapy is of course that too Give up the coffee. If there is no caffeine, it cannot cause the known problems. You can also make sure to drink the coffee in smaller quantities. This will weaken the body's response and may prevent diarrhea. Since the reaction of the body also differs from person to person, the tolerable amount can be found out by trial and error.

It is also advisable to have coffee in the morning not on an empty stomach to drink, as the susceptibility is particularly high here. Besides, you can try other types of coffee. Due to different ingredients and roasting processes, this can make a difference. Especially espresso or drinks such as cappuccino, in which espresso is processed, are a frequently used alternative. Finally, you should boil the coffee with sufficiently hot water or replace it with decaffeinated coffee.

Duration and prognosis

The duration of diarrhea after drinking coffee is usually relatively short and rarely exceeds the limit of 30 minutes. Also the The prognosis is favorablebecause once the caffeine's effects have subsided, there is no longer any risk of it occurring again. The body's reaction to coffee or caffeine, however, remains relatively constant with increasing age, which is why the prognosis of improvement is rather poor and the symptoms often occur throughout life.

additional Information

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You can find an overview of all topics in the field of internal medicine at: Internal medicine A-Z.

Quality assurance by: Dr. Nicolas Gumpert | Last change: 03.04.2021