Say Goodbye to Diarrhea Quickly: Uncover Causes and Prevention Tactics
If you're looking to quickly alleviate diarrhea, treatment depends on the underlying cause, but usually involves taking anti-diarrheal medications or antibiotics. Additionally, certain food and drinks can help manage your symptoms.
Diarrhea, characterized by liquid stools, can be an awkward and inconvenient issue, especially on vacation or during special events. Although it usually resolves within two to three days, there are several remedies that can speed up the process of firmer stools.
While some people might consider diarrhea a minor problem, and just let it pass, others may want to take action. In the latter case, anti-diarrheal medication may be an efficient option, as it can reduce or even eliminate loose stools after the first dose. Some over-the-counter products, such as Imodium or Pepto-Bismol, which contain loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate, respectively, work quickly by slowing down fluid movement through the intestines or by killing diarrhea-causing bacteria.
Another effective home remedy is rice water, made by boiling rice and water for about 10 minutes and then straining the rice and preserving the water for consumption. Rice water provides hydration and can reduce the duration of diarrhea. It also has a binding effect in the digestive tract, resulting in firm and substantial stools.
Consuming probiotics, either in the form of supplements or by eating yogurt, for example, can also promote normal bowel function and shorten the duration of diarrhea. By providing the right amount of good bacteria, probiotics help to restore the healthy balance of gut bacteria that may have been affected by the illness.
In cases where bacteria or parasites are the cause of diarrhea - likely due to ingesting contaminated food or water - antibiotics may be necessary. Keep in mind, however, that antibiotics won't work if viral infections cause the diarrhea.
Finally, a bland diet consisting of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (the BRAT diet) can quickly relieve diarrhea. These starchy, low-fiber foods can help control the symptoms and are easy to tolerate while the intestine heals.
If you're experiencing diarrhea, incorporating certain foods into your diet can be helpful as they can act as a binding agent in your digestive tract, resulting in bulkier stools. What's more, since these foods are bland, they're less likely to cause stomach irritation or worsen diarrhea. Along with these options, you may want to consider consuming saltine crackers, clear broth, and potatoes as well.
In order to avoid future occurrences of diarrhea, it's important to understand the underlying causes. Some common causes include:
Stomach VirusOne of the causes of diarrhea is the stomach virus, also known as viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu. Along with watery bowel movements, you may experience additional symptoms like stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. Some viruses that can cause these symptoms include norovirus and rotavirus, which can be contracted from contaminated food and drink, or from sharing personal items with someone who is infected.
MedicationsCertain medications may cause sensitivity and trigger instances of diarrhea. Pain relievers, cancer-fighting drugs, and antibiotics are some common medications that may lead to diarrhea.
Foodborne IllnessDiarrhea can sometimes result from eating food that's been contaminated by toxins, parasites, or bacteria. Some common bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses include salmonella, e.coli, listeria monocytogenes, and clostridium botulinum (botulism).
Food Allergy or SensitivityIf you're lactose intolerant, dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and milk may trigger diarrhea. Additionally, having a food allergy or sensitivity may also lead to symptoms of diarrhea, such as when consuming foods containing gluten (such as wheat, pasta, and rye).
Artificial SweetenersIt's a less well-known contributor, but having an intolerance towards artificial sweeteners can cause diarrhea after consuming sweetened food or drinks containing these additives. These sweeteners can be found in sugar-free products, diet drinks, chewing gum, and some types of candy.
Issues with Digestion
When it comes to digestive disorders, diarrhea is often a common symptom. Those with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis could experience frequent bouts of loose stools. Conversely, irritable bowel syndrome can cause alternating episodes of diarrhea and constipation.
If you're experiencing diarrhea caused by a viral or bacterial infection, it's important to protect yourself. You can do this by washing your hands frequently, avoiding contact with sick individuals, sanitizing commonly touched surfaces, and refraining from sharing personal items. Additionally, if you find yourself with diarrhea after beginning a new medication, speak with your doctor about potentially lowering your dosage or exploring an alternate drug.
To further protect yourself, ensure that your food is thoroughly cooked and that fruits and vegetables are washed before preparing. Finally, make sure you're washing your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, opt for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
If you're interested in identifying possible food sensitivities or allergies, consider keeping a food journal. Write down everything you eat and make note of when you experience diarrhea. This can help determine whether you have a gluten sensitivity or lactose intolerance, allowing you to explore an elimination diet by removing problematic foods from your diet.
For those with digestive disorders, speak with your doctor if your current therapy doesn't appear to be effective. You may need to adjust your medication. Finally, if your diarrhea lasts for more than three days or you're experiencing dehydration symptoms such as extreme thirst, decreased urination, or dizziness, it's important to see a doctor. Other reasons to seek medical attention include a fever above 102°F (38.9°C), black or bloody stools, and abdominal pain.
Although diarrhea can be disruptive, there are ways to ease symptoms. These include taking medication, consuming low-fiber foods, and avoiding foods that may irritate your digestive system such as artificial sweeteners or dairy. With a bit of effort, you can get back to your regular schedule in no time.
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