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Citrus Food & Diarrhea

author image Diane Marks
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Citrus Food & Diarrhea
Tangerines growing on a tree. Photo Credit: slpu9945/iStock/Getty Images

Citrus foods are enjoyed by people every day, but if you develop diarrhea after eating citrus food, you may avoid them altogether. Diarrhea is a symptom of a condition and is not a condition in itself. Diarrhea that occurs shortly after eating citrus foods as a single occurence may be the result of food poisoning. If you notice a trend after eating citrus food, you may have a food allergy or intolerance. Talk with your doctor for an evaluation and clinical diagnosis of your condition.

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Food Poisoning

Diarrhea is one of the primary symptoms of food poisoning, accompanied with stomach pain, cramping and vomiting. If you develop diarrhea four to 36 hours after eating citrus food, you may have food poisoning. Food poisoning is not a chronic condition and only occurs when you eat something that has been contaminated with an infectious organism, such as bacteria, toxins or a parasite. Most symptoms will develop quickly and can cause bouts of diarrhea and vomiting for one to 10 days, according to PubMed Health. Food poisoning is diagnosed by testing your stool. If diagnosed, your doctor will recommend that you rest and drink plenty of fluid, until your symptoms subside.

Food Allergy

If you’re allergic to citrus fruits, diarrhea can form within minutes of eating the fruit. A citrus fruit allergy is a chronic condition that has no cure. The only way to prevent or treat symptoms is to avoid the consumption of all citrus fruits. A citrus allergy occurs when your body doesn’t recognize the proteins found in citrus fruits. The body reacts to these proteins as if they were a dangerous substance. The immune system quickly creates specific antibodies to fight off the citrus proteins, resulting in a chemical reaction in the body that causes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, cramping, sinus congestion, asthma and skin rashes.

Fructose Intolerance

Fructose is a sugar that is found primarily in fruit. If you are fructose intolerant, you will develop gastrointestinal symptoms within minutes of eating citrus fruit. When you eat citrus fruits, your small intestine cannot digest the fructose because of a lacking enzyme. Enzymes digest most proteins and sugars in foods and help the body absorb nutrition. If your body cannot digest fructose, you will develop common symptoms of food intolerance, such as nausea, diarrhea, bloating, gas and vomiting. Fructose intolerance is a serious condition that can cause low blood sugar levels and damage to your liver, according to MedlinePlus.


Some digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease, may be related to diarrhea from ingesting citrus fruits. Talk with your doctor if you notice that you have chronic diarrhea that lasts for more than six weeks.

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