More than 179 million people in the United States experience bouts of diarrhea each year. The common symptoms of this condition include watery stools, bloating, and cramping. Most people experience acute diarrhea with short-term symptoms that usually clear up after a week or two. But for some people, the symptoms can last for more than four weeks. Doctors classify this as chronic diarrhea.
In this article we’ll take a look at the five most effective ways to treat diarrhea.
There are several types of antidiarrheals that can reduce the symptoms of diarrhea and help with some other digestive issues. Imodium A-D is the most commonly used over-the-counter antidiarrheals. Yet, despite the fact you can get it without a prescription, it is important to consult with your doctor before using it. That’s because the drug can cause some serious side effects if you exceed the recommended dosage or continue to take it on an ongoing basis.
If your diarrhea is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic, too. They may also recommend a medication that contains codeine to reduce watery stools.
Probiotics provide your body with the “good” bacteria it needs to maintain digestive health. In doing so, these bacteria also help prevent infections that may cause diarrhea. What’s more, studies have found that a yeast probiotic called S. boulardii can help reduce traveler’s diarrhea, as well as the symptoms of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
You can get probiotics from fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sour pickles, and soft cheeses. They are also available in the supplement form.
- Dietary Changes
Not only will eating certain types of food not make your diarrhea worse but it may even help relieve its symptoms. If you’re experiencing diarrhea, you might want to try the so-called BRAT diet. Its name denotes the four basic foods you should eat – bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These are all low-fiber foods that can help harden your stool.
It is also important to avoid fiber-rich foods, as well as foods that can cause bloating. These include beans, peas, corn, leafy greens, and milk. Also, make sure to avoid any alcoholic beverages, coffee, and caffeinated tea until your symptoms go away.
Proper hydration is the essential part of any diarrhea treatment. As soon as you start experiencing the symptoms, it is important to up your intake of water and other clear, non-caffeinated fluids. According to research, sports drinks and over-the-counter solutions may also help people with mild symptoms of diarrhea.
Dehydration due to diarrhea can be particularly dangerous for children. In fact, it may even have a fatal outcome. It is thus important to ensure proper hydration of your child. As such, you should continue breastfeeding your baby despite diarrhea and give your child a pediatric hydration solution like Pedialyte. What’s more, these solutions are also available in the form of colorful popsicles, which makes it much easier to administer them to kids.
- Treating Other Related Conditions
If no short-term treatments seem to help relieve your symptoms, your diarrhea problems are likely caused by a related medical condition. Some of the most common medical causes include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as bacterial infections and food poisoning.
In cases like these, addressing the resulting diarrhea can only provide temporary relief. To get rid of diarrhea, your doctor will focus on getting the underlying cause of your problems under control first. While this is often enough to resolve the issue, your doctor may advise another treatment method.
The Final Word
Drinking plenty of water and tweaking your diet, for example starting the low FODMAP Diet often is all it takes to control your diarrhea. If your symptoms are more severe, you should visit your doctor. They will examine your symptoms, investigate their cause, and recommend the best treatment.