Diarrhea is an awful condition where one experiences loose and watery bowel movements more than three times within a day. It is often accompanied by bloating, nausea, abdominal cramps, and frequent urges to move the bowels.
Diarrhea is often not a serious condition but you may need to call your doctor if you experience severe abdominal pain, fever, bloody stools, severe diarrhea, and dehydration that lasts more than three days. Children who have diarrhea should be seen by a doctor since this condition may have more serious effects on them.
What Are the Symptoms of Diarrhea?
The symptoms of diarrhea may be classified into non-serious or uncomplicated and serious or complicated diarrhea.
- Abdominal cramps
- Loose stools
- Watery stools
- Urgency in moving bowels
- Nausea and vomiting
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, serious diarrhea may also include symptoms like:
- Painful passage of stools
- Repeated vomiting
- Fever (>38 ºC or 100 ºF)
- Inability to increase fluid intake
- Reduced frequency and amount of urination
- Mucus, undigested food or blood in stools
- Weight loss
When to See a Doctor
Call your doctor if your diarrhea does not stop, or if fever lasts more than 24 hours. If you are vomiting and are not able to drink more fluids to replace the loss, call a doctor immediately.
Acute diarrhea may become a serious condition among babies and younger children because they are prone to dehydration. Seek medical help immediately if your child has diarrhea.
What Are the Causes of Diarrhea?
Acute diarrhea may be caused by various conditions and events such as:
- Food poisoning
- Tropical diseases like cholera and typhoid
- Emotional stress and anxiety
- Medications, such as antibiotics
- Drinking too much alcohol
Infection from contaminated water or food can cause diarrhea, and these may involve:
- Viruses like adenovirus, rotavirus, and calicivirus
- Bacteria, such as Campylobacter, E. coli, V. cholerae, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Shigella
- Intestinal parasites, such as tapeworm, Giardia lamblia, and Cryptosporidium parvum
Long-lasting or repeated bouts of diarrhea may be associated with various conditions:
- Celiac disease
- Chronic constipation
- Hormonal disorders such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Bowel cancer
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Lactose intolerance
- Medications such as antibiotics, laxatives, antacids, and drugs for treating high blood pressure or arthritis
What Are the Treatments for Diarrhea?
In most cases, diarrhea stops on its own within one or two days even without treatment. If you have tried home remedies but your diarrhea persists, call your doctor.
- Change the medicine you’ve taken. If your antibiotic or other medication is the cause of your diarrhea, ask your doctor to change your treatment plan.
- Use antibiotics. If your diarrhea is caused by bacterial infection or parasites, you may need antibiotics to treat your condition. However, if it is due to a virus, antibiotics are not recommended.
- Replace fluids. You lose water and body salts when you have diarrhea. To prevent dehydration, replace your fluid losses by drinking more water, broth or juice. However, if this is not enough, you may need intravenous fluid replacement through your veins to prevent electrolyte imbalance.
- Treatment according to conditions. Treatment of underlying medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease can help control diarrhea.
Watch the video to know how to get rid of diarrhea fast:
1. Choose suitable food
Eat something light and easy to digest
Eat rice, salty crackers, sugar cookies or plain cookies to reduce abdominal pain.
Ginger may help you ease your stomach
Try ginger tea, ginger ale, or ginger bread to reduce gas and spasms. However, avoid these if you are taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin or aspirin.
Try the BRATTY diet
BRATTY diet consists of banana, rice, applesauce, toast, tea, and yogurt, which have a constipating effect. They are rich in fiber, and add bulk to the stools. However, avoid taking these with jam or sweeteners.
2. Choose suitable drink
Take small sips of lukewarm juice, tea, and clear broth to relieve upset stomach and prevent dehydration. Avoid cold or carbonated drinks like cola, beer and soda.
Try to consume at least 8 cups of fluids daily. If you have a fever, increase to 12 cups. Avoid apple juice or prune juice, which have a laxative effect.
3. Additional advice
Stop dairy products
Except for yogurt, dairy products can cause lactose intolerance, which can cause diarrhea or worsen your diarrhea. These can lead to bloating, stomach cramps and pain.
Try OTC drugs
OTC drugs that can help relieve symptoms include Pepto-Bismol and Mylanta, Imodium, Pepto Diarrhea Control, and Psyllium.
How Can I Prevent Diarrhea in Daily Life?
Store Food Properly
It is always best to serve food after cooking or refrigerate it immediately. Leaving food at room temperature encourages the growth of harmful bacteria.
Remember to Wash Your Hands
Always wash your hands before and after you prepare food. Wash your hands especially after handling raw meat, changing diapers, using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose.
Pay Attention When Traveling
Many people get diarrhea during travel. To avoid this, eat only well-cooked foods. If you want to eat raw fruits and vegetables, wash and peel them yourselves. Drink only bottled water and other beverages in their original containers. Boil water for coffee and tea. Avoid opening your mouth while you shower.