How to Treat Diarrhea

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Diarrhea is characterized by excess water in the stool and can be quite debilitating. The cause may vary from tainted food or a virus to severe anxiety. These steps can help you cope.

Things You'll Need

  • Antidiarrheal Agents
  • Rest to give your body time to recover.

  • Avoid milk products, because temporary lactose intolerance is common after an insult to the intestine.

  • Wash your hands after every bowel movement to reduce the chance of transmitting the pathogen to someone else.

  • Consider your diet. Some people believe bananas help to form stools in children. Some doctors recommend a 'BRAT' diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. But use them sparingly and cautiously so as not to aggravate the problem.

  • Withhold food for 24 hours in moderate to severe cases, allowing only lukewarm clear liquids. As stools begin to form, slowly add soft foods.

  • Visit your doctor if the diarrhea is painful, is severe, contains blood or is accompanied by a high fever. Also, see or call a doctor immediately if you are taking antibiotic or prescription drugs.

  • Ask your pharmacist about any antidiarrheal medication you're considering to make sure that it does not interact with medications you are already taking.

Tips & Warnings

  • In children, diarrhea that is due to bacterial infection is severe and can last up to twelve days.
  • Check your medicines: Products containing magnesium may cause diarrhea.
  • The elderly and children can quickly become dehydrated, which can turn an intestinal illness into a systemic emergency. Replace fluids by drinking water, an electrolyte replacement drink or juice if tolerable.
  • This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

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