Dos and Don&x27ts for Quick Relief of Diarrhea

Dos and Don&x27ts for Quick Relief of Diarrhea

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Follow these dos and don’ts for managing this condition so you can feel better as fast as possible.

What to Do About Fluids When You Have Diarrhea

Do drink plenty of fluids. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least 1 cup of liquid every time you have a loose bowel movement. Water, Pedialyte, fruit juices, caffeine-free soda, and salty broths are some good choices. According to the Cleveland Clinic, salt helps slow down the fluid loss, and sugar will help your body absorb the salt.

Don’t consume beverages at extreme temperatures. Consume all liquids at room temperature, or slightly warmed, advises Dr. Ganjhu. “Anything too hot or too cold can cause nausea.”

Do drink herbal tea. There is some research to suggest that products containing certain combinations of herbs may help an upset stomach. One research review cited the potential favorable effects of drinking a chamomile preparation that is combined with other herbs in treating diarrhea.

Don’t consume caffeine, alcohol, or certain sodas. Caffeine and alcohol can irritate the digestive tract and worsen diarrhea, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine. Sodas containing high-fructose corn syrup can also cause trouble when you have an upset stomach. According to a study published in the journal Healthcare, large amounts of fructose can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Dilute your water with fruit juice. Water can sometimes be nauseating when you have diarrhea. Ganjhu recommends diluting it with fruit juice, like cranberry or apple juice, to make it easier to tolerate.

What to Do About Nutrition When You Have Diarrhea

Do stick with bland foods. One tried-and-true diet for diarrhea is the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Low in fiber, bland, and starchy, these foods can help replace lost nutrients and firm up your stools. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), you can also try boiled potatoes, crackers, or cooked carrots.

Do eat small meals. Too much food will stimulate your gastrointestinal tract to move even more, says Ganjhu, and possibly worsen the diarrhea. Eating five or six small meals, rather than three large ones, can give your intestines a chance to digest the food more easily.

Don’t eat fried food. Prepare foods like beef, pork, chicken, fish, or turkey by baking or broiling, not frying, which can worsen diarrhea. Cooked eggs are okay, too, according to MedlinePlus.

Do eat when hunger strikes. Listen to your body and don’t force yourself to eat, which can worsen symptoms. Trust your body to tell you when — and how much — it can tolerate, notes Ganjhu.

Don’t eat fruits and vegetables that cause gas. Eating gassy food when you have diarrhea can increase intestinal gas and should be avoided. This includes fruits and vegetables like beans, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and leafy greens and sweet foods like cookies or cakes, per the Mayo Clinic.

Lifestyle Dos and Don’ts When You Have Diarrhea

Along with knowing what to eat and drink when you’re dealing with gastrointestinal woes, it’s also important to be mindful of other everyday habits to help you deal with diarrhea.

Do wash your hands. Since diarrhea can sometimes be transmitted by person-to-person contact or from contaminated hands, washing your hands after using the bathroom and before you eat or prepare food can help block possible diarrhea-causing pathogens. Handwashing can reduce episodes of diarrhea by about 30 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To wash properly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wetting your hands, then applying soap and rubbing them together for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to include the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Rinse with clean, running water and dry thoroughly. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol can work, too.

Do know when to call the doctor. Mayo Clinic advises to seek medical help if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Your diarrhea lasts more than two days.
  • You experience severe abdominal pain or pain in your rectum.
  • You’re dehydrated or exceptionally weak.
  • You have a fever of 102 degrees F or higher.
  • Your stools are bloody or black and tar-like.

Do consider medication. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicine containing bismuth subsalicylate (like Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate) can help reduce intestinal inflammation and kill diarrhea-causing organisms. (Note that bismuth products can cause dark or black stools that look like blood.) Although loperamide (Imodium), another OTC antidiarrheal medication, is sometimes recommended, Ganjhu advises against it. “This is an anti-mobility, meaning that it stops your gastrointestinal tract from moving. Although it can slow down the diarrhea, it’s better instead for it to come out,” she says. “It’s your body’s way of ridding itself of any toxins.”

Don’t exercise. Strenuous exercise has the potential to cause dehydration, stomach distress, nausea, and heartburn, which can worsen your symptoms. It’s wise to avoid it until your diarrhea subsides, advises Ganjhu, who says to wait until you’re fully recovered to go back to the gym.