What Causes Soft Stools?

Soft stools or diarrhea can cause cramping and discomfort. Usually, over-the-counter products and the passage of a few days prove effective in getting through a bout of soft stool. If your problem continues for several days or weeks, it could be indicative of a more serious problem. If you are unable to find the source of your digestive problems, you might need to provide a stool sample to your doctor for analysis.

Medical Problems

If you have intestinal diseases or conditions such as irritable bowl syndrome or Crohn's disease, you might be prone to soft stool. You might be incapable of absorbing some nutrients in your diet. Or your stool could be indicative of cancer, and this is especially true if you see other problems in your stool such as blood.


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Most Americans need 20 to 30 g of fiber in their diets each day. Excessive fiber intake can lead to gas, painful cramping and soft stool. Other sudden changes in your diet could also be responsible for loose, soft stool. If you are taking diet supplements, read the labeling. Some diet supplements can cause loose, oily stools if you have a diet that is high in fat.


An infection can also cause you to have diarrhea or loose stool. Foods that are spoiled can affect your digestive tract. You also might have allergies or conditions like celiac disease that can cause diarrhea after you eat wheat or gluten-based products. Bacteria and viruses can play a role in soft stools. If you notice any other symptoms, speak to a doctor. You might need to take antibiotics to recover from soft stool.

Lifestyle Factors

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If you have a history of excessive reliance on diet pills or laxatives, you might experience oily or loose stool. Excessive alcohol and drug use can also result in diarrhea. Other lifestyle factors, such as competitive running, can also influence soft stool.