If you’ve ever felt the pain and discomfort of diarrhea, you know that the last thing you want to do is leave your house to deal with it. If you’ve ever wondered what in your own kitchen or bathroom cabinets might offer some quick relief, then this article is for you. Below are some of the facts about what causes this condition, along with helpful foods and home remedies for diarrhea.
The Details of Diarrhea
You probably know the symptoms of diarrhea all too well: the bloating, the abdominal cramping, and, of course, the frequent and watery stools. Here is a list of the usual suspects when it comes to causes of diarrhea, some of them much more serious than others.
- You may have a food intolerance. For example, a lactose intolerance, which means you can’t digest milk or dairy products; if you ingest them anyway, they’ll fight with your body all the way down.
- You may have a food allergy. Maybe it’s not so severe that you break out in hives, but an allergy to soy, shellfish, or wheat can cause great intestinal discomfort as your body tries to expel the offending substance.
- You may have a parasitic infection. For example, the microscopic parasite in unsafe water that causes a giardia infection in your guts and is often marked by abdominal cramps, nausea, bloating, and diarrhea.
- You may have a viral infection. Viruses like the rotavirus often afflict young children and adults with severe cases of diarrhea.
- You may have a bacterial infection. You may experience diarrhea due to bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, shigella, etc., or you might pick up a general unknown bacterial infection when traveling through a developing country—those infections are collectively classed under the heading “traveler’s diarrhea.”
- You may have food poisoning. Nothing’s wrong with you and nothing’s infected you, but maybe you’ve eaten something that was slightly spoiled or rotten, and your body is reacting to it as a hostile invader. This is a good use of your body’s immune response, but it is not fun to endure.
- You may have an intestinal disease. These include Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or other gastrointestinal disorders. As these are chronic conditions, treating digestive issues in these circumstances may require a doctor’s involvement, or going on a fiber-restricted diet for a while.
- You may be having an adverse reaction to some medication. Antibiotics will sometimes have the side effect of taking out your good gut bacteria along with the bad, but whether it’s a new med or an old med that you’ve now developed a tolerance for, this too may require a doctor’s consultation to fix.
For persistent cases of diarrhea, medical care may be necessary, and a health care provider may order blood tests, a stool culture, an X-ray, or a colonoscopy to discover the underlying cause of your diarrhea. Acute diarrhea is diarrhea lasting less than 2 weeks, and hopefully it’ll pass sooner rather than later on its own. Of course, you most likely want to do whatever you can to hurry it along, and that’s where home remedies come in.
Home Remedies for Diarrhea
Whether you know the cause or not, you most certainly just want your diarrhea to stop. Usually diarrhea will clear up after a few days on its own, but who wants to wait around for nature to take its course? Nobody does! In this circumstance, patience is not a virtue, so here are some suggestions for home remedies that may offer you quicker relief.
Because so much of the water in your body is literally being flushed away, dehydration is a major concern for those suffering from diarrhea, especially young children, who might die from severe dehydration. It is recommended that infants with diarrhea keep being breast or formula fed to ensure they’re still receiving vital fluids. Older children can partake of over-the-counter (OTC) options designed specifically for small, growing bodies, like Pedialyte. An at-home hydration remedy for kids could also include breaking out the popsicles: a little sugar and a little more water to help them feel better.
If you’re dealing with this on your own as an adult, just drink plenty of fluids—anything that isn’t a diuretic (like coffee or alcohol). You may want to avoid carbonated and caffeinated drinks too, and milk as well, as these may worsen your symptoms by throwing more fuel into the mix. Maybe go for something with some extra electrolytes in it, like a sports drink, or just plain water will do the trick.
Probiotic foods provide “good” gut bacteria for your intestinal tract and digestive system. These healthy, living microorganisms can be found in the following foods.
|Kefir||Beet kvass (a tonic)||Pickles|
|Cottage cheese||Yogurt||Green olives|
Probiotic supplements can also be obtained in pill or powdered forms to restore good bacteria to your gastrointestinal system, but it’s more likely you’ll have a jar of pickles or a cup or two of yogurt at home for quick access.
An easy way to remember which low-fiber foods can help settle a case of diarrhea is the acronym BRAT. The BRAT diet names these foods (and the like) as foods that will comfort an upset digestive system.
- Rice (white)
The BRAT diet will help firm up your watery waste, while the following gentle foods will make sure you’re still getting your basic nutrients as your body recovers.
- Skinless baked chicken or chicken soup (which would have the added bonus of helping with rehydration)
- Boiled or baked peeled potatoes
If you do want to get something extra than kitchen cabinet solutions, maybe you have some of these over-the-counter antidiarrheals in your bathroom cabinet. If not, perhaps you have a loved one or great friend willing to pick up something at the pharmacy for you to help relieve your diarrhea symptoms.
- Antidiarrheal meds like Imodium (loperamide)
- Bismuth subsalicylate, the antacid ingredient in Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate (not for children under 5)
- Rehydration solutions like Pedialyte and Gatorade
- Oral rehydration salts (ORS) you can mix with water to help replace lost fluids, sugars, and salts
If this situation happens to you once, it may well happen again, so storing some of these items in your house just in case could be a wise decision to make.
Foods and Drinks to Avoid
You’ll want to avoid any foods that cause bloating or gas (think beans and broccoli), that are caustic to the stomach or intestinal lining, or are high in fiber for a little while. Greasy or fried foods too: not today. Spicy foods: nope, no thank you, and nope again. Here is a list of various other foods to bench for the time being.
Foods to Avoid
- Ice cream
- Green leafy vegetables
Drinks to Avoid
- Soft drinks
- Prune juice
Drink to a Quick Recovery
Hydration, hydration, hydration is still the first on the list, and your first step to feeling better. Keep in mind that if you are experiencing a case of chronic diarrhea or have overly severe abdominal pain, it might be an indication that home remedies just aren’t going to be enough and medical attention is necessary. However, if this is just a bad bug or some bad luck, then use the above information to take care of yourself at home and find a speedy recovery.