What to Do When You Have Diarrhea
Diarrhea is a common problem that most people experience at some point in their lives. It is a condition that is characterized by loose, watery bowel movements that occur more frequently than usual. In most cases, diarrhea is caused by a viral or bacterial infection, but it can also be a side effect of certain medications, food intolerances or allergies, and other medical conditions. Regardless of the cause, diarrhea can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and potentially dangerous if it persists for an extended period. This article will provide you with some tips on what to do when you have diarrhea, including some home remedies and when to seek medical help.
Diarrhea can cause dehydration, so it is essential to drink plenty of fluids to maintain hydration. Drinking enough water, clear broth, or clear sodas like ginger ale can help replenish fluids and electrolytes that may be lost due to diarrhea. Drinking sports drinks like Gatorade can also be beneficial, as they contain electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which are lost during diarrhea. However, avoid beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol, as they can further dehydrate you.
Eat a Light Diet
When you have diarrhea, you may not feel like eating at all, but it is essential to continue eating. Eating light, bland foods can help ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs without making your diarrhea worse. Some gentle foods to eat include bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, also known as the BRAT diet. Other good choices include boiled potatoes, crackers, and clear broth.
Avoid Certain Foods
Some foods can make diarrhea worse, so it is best to avoid them entirely. Foods that are spicy, greasy, or high in fiber can irritate your digestive system and make diarrhea worse. Other foods to avoid include dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol. Dairy products may make diarrhea worse if you are lactose intolerant, while caffeine and alcohol can both dehydrate you, making your diarrhea even more uncomfortable.
Take Over-the-Counter Medications
If your diarrhea needs some help to go away, some over-the-counter medications may help. Anti-diarrheal medications like loperamide can help slow down the bowel movements and reduce the number of times you have to go to the bathroom. However, if you have bloody diarrhea, avoid taking these medications as they can cause more harm than good.
Try Some Home Remedies
There are many home remedies that can help ease the symptoms of diarrhea. Some of these remedies include:
- Drinking chamomile tea
- Using a heating pad on your abdomen
- Adding probiotics to your diet
- Taking a warm bath
- Eating foods that are high in potassium, like bananas
When to Seek Medical Help
In most cases, diarrhea can be treated at home and should go away within a few days. However, there are some cases where you should seek medical help, including:
- If your diarrhea lasts more than three days
- If you have severe abdominal pain
- If you have a fever of 101 degrees or higher
- If you have blood in your stool
- If you have signs of dehydration, including dark urine, a dry mouth, or dizziness
Diarrhea is a common problem that most people experience at some point in their lives, but it can be uncomfortable and even dangerous if it persists for an extended period. If you have diarrhea, make sure to stay hydrated, eat a light diet, avoid certain foods, take over-the-counter medications if necessary, and try some home remedies that can help ease the symptoms. If your diarrhea lasts more than a few days or is accompanied by severe symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
- Q: What causes diarrhea?
- A: Diarrhea is most commonly caused by a viral or bacterial infection, but it can also be a side effect of certain medications or medical conditions. Food intolerances or allergies can also cause diarrhea.
- Q: How long should diarrhea last?
- A: In most cases, diarrhea should go away within a few days. If it lasts more than three days or is accompanied by severe symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
- Q: Can I prevent diarrhea?
- A: While you can’t always prevent diarrhea, you can reduce your risk by practicing good hygiene, washing your hands regularly, and avoiding foods that are known to cause diarrhea.
- Q: What are some common home remedies for diarrhea?
- A: Some common home remedies for diarrhea include drinking chamomile tea, adding probiotics to your diet, and eating foods that are high in potassium, like bananas.
- Q: When should I seek medical help for diarrhea?
- A: If your diarrhea lasts more than three days, is accompanied by severe symptoms, or you have blood in your stool, seek medical help immediately.
– “Diarrhea.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 Oct. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352241.
– “Diarrhea.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Nov. 2017, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diarrhea.
– “Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments.” Medical News Today, 4 Oct. 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/158634.php.