Diarrhea is the term used to describe loose or watery stools that occur frequently. Individuals can develop diarrhea for a variety of reasons, ranging from a mild intestinal illness to a serious case of food poisoning. Generally, diarrhea will clear up within a few days. Regardless of the underlying cause, it is important to take the necessary steps to bring the condition under control. There are many home remedies that can be used to help you get a handle on diarrhea and alleviate the symptoms associated with the condition.
When experiencing bouts of diarrhea, the body rapidly loses excess fluids. It doesn’t take long for dehydration to occur. If the diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, the potential for becoming dehydrated is even greater. When dehydration occurs, it worsens your symptoms, leading to nausea and a loss of appetite, which makes it more difficult for you to drink fluids. It starts a vicious cycle that can be difficult to counteract. It is important to stay well hydrated when experiencing diarrhea to prevent this cycle from occurring.
If you are unable to hold any liquids because you are vomiting, try drinking only small amounts of liquids. Sip two tablespoons of clear liquids every 30 minutes. Liquids that can help prevent dehydration without causing additional stomach upset include:
Even if you are experiencing extreme thirst, refrain from drinking more than the recommended two tablespoons, as doing so can result in vomiting. After you have been able to tolerate two tablespoons every 30 minutes for a few hours, you can try increasing the frequency to every 15 minutes. This method may not do much for quenching your thirst, but it is an effective way to replenish the liquids that you have lost and help prevent dehydration from occurring.
Tea is a powerful antioxidant that is associated with a wide range of health benefits. The tannins that are present in many teas have anti-diarrhea properties that may help decrease the severity of diarrhea.
Chamomile tea has antispasmodic elements that can help control the intestinal spasms that occur during many gastrointestinal illnesses. Chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat inflammation in the intestines. Drink up to three cups of chamomile tea per day until symptoms improve.
Orange peel tea is prescribed by many natural health practitioners to treat symptoms of diarrhea. This tea may help to improve digestion, which can help speed up the rate at which harmful bacteria or viruses are expelled out of the body. To make orange peel tea, simple place some chopped organic orange peel into a pot of boiling water. Cover and remove from heat. Add a tiny bit of honey or sugar if desired and drink when cooled.
If you are not experiencing vomiting along with your diarrhea, you may feel as though you can eat as you normally would. But just because you are not experiencing nausea or vomiting does not mean you should continue to eat three meals per day. Eating several small meals frequently throughout the day puts less strain on your digestive system, allowing it to function more effectively during a time when it is already under stress.
When experiencing diarrhea, with or without vomiting, it is best to stick with non-irritating foods that are gentle on the stomach. Foods that are gentle on the stomach include those that are salty, starchy or low in fiber. Examples of these foods are:
After diarrhea symptoms have improved, you can slowly introduce other foods back into your diet. However, pay attention to your body and make note of any stomach upset that occurs with specific foods. Be sure to eliminate those foods to prevent the possibility of a relapse. Try reintroducing them again after a few days.
Equally as important as knowing what foods to eat during a bout of diarrhea is knowing what foods should be avoided. Certain types of food will irritate the intestinal tract and can aggravate diarrhea symptoms. Foods that should be avoided include:
Dairy products are digested in the small intestine. When experiencing diarrhea, the small intestine is often sluggish. This sluggishness can prevent it from properly digesting dairy products. Caffeine will have the same effect on your intestines as it does on your nervous system, which means your intestines will go into overdrive. This will result in more diarrhea. Foods that are greasy, fried or high in fiber are more difficult to digest and can increase diarrhea symptoms.
A popular folk-remedy for treating diarrhea is blueberry root. Similar to tea, blueberries are a powerful antioxidant that contains diarrhea-fighting tannins. Though there are no current research studies to support the claim that blueberries are effective at treating diarrhea, they are often recommended by natural health practitioners. Doctors in Sweden often prescribe a dried blueberry soup to patients suffering from acute diarrhea.
Yogurt is the one dairy product that is not off limits when experiencing intestinal illness. This is because yogurt contains probiotics, which are live, active cultures of friendly bacteria that coat the intestines when eaten. These friendly bacteria help to protect the gut and the intestines from harmful bacteria. Eating yogurt during a bout of diarrhea is also helpful because it produces large amounts of lactic acid in the intestines. Lactic acid helps kill the harmful bacteria that may be causing your diarrhea. Miso, tempeh and cheese also contain beneficial probiotics.
In addition to eating foods that contain probiotics, you can get an extra boost by taking a probiotic dietary supplement. These supplements, available at health food stores and some pharmacies, contain significantly higher levels of probiotic bacteria than what is found in probiotic containing foods. Probiotic supplements are effective at treating diarrhea and can be taken along with yogurt to increase the desired effect.
Diarrhea occurs as a result of stress in the gastrointestinal tract. Much like a cold, flu or other illness, your body is hard at work trying to fight off the invading organism. To do so requires a tremendous amount of energy. You should get plenty of rest when you are experiencing diarrhea. By resting and conserving your energy, your immune system will have more energy to fight off the germs that are making you ill. In addition, the immune system does the majority of its healing when the body is at rest. By resting for a day or two, you can speed your recovery and double your healing time.
In worst case scenarios, you can alleviate the symptoms of diarrhea with a good over-the-counter medication like Imodium A-D or Pepto-Bismol. Be sure to consult your doctor before trying any of these medications or administering them to a child.
If after a few days you are not seeing an improvement, or if your condition worsens, it may be time to seek medical attention. Watch for symptoms such as:
In most cases, diarrhea will clear up on its own within a couple of days. Contact your doctor if any of these symptoms develop while experiencing diarrhea.