How to Stop Diarrhea Fast
The objective of this article is to give you a rich summary of useful information and tested strategies on how to stop diarrhea. Read at this page for more specific information on how to get rid of it as fast as possible, but don’t overlook the most important thing: how can you prevent it from happening again? Yes! Here is how.
What is diarrhea?
Diarrhea is a very common digestive disorder. It causes discomfort in the sense that a person suffering from it experiences loose and watery stools. It necessitates a person to go to the toilet frequently, usually more than three times a day. The condition can either be chronic or acute. Acute diarrhea usually resolves itself without the use of medication and usually lasts for one or two days. However, chronic diarrhea may last for over a month, and this is usually a sign of mal-absorption problems where the body fails to absorb important nutrients, inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome. Please read along for a summary of the important information and find out how to stop diarrhea in its tracks.
The following are the common symptoms:
- Urgency to have a bowel movement
- Stomach cramps
- Stomach pain
- Lower Abdominal pains
- Frequent watery stools
Adults suffering from temporary condition should not be alarmed, though it could signal potentially serious problems. Children are the most vulnerable because of their smaller body mass and can get dehydrated more easily. The following symptoms require a visit by a healthcare professional:
- Persistent stomach pain, pain in the rectal and abdominal area
- Presence of pus or blood in stool
- Prolonged condition lasting for more than 3 days
- Dehydration signs
- High fever (102 F or more)
- Black, tarry stool
What causes diarrhea
This illness is either osmotic or infectious. The infectious version occurs where there is amoebic, viral or bacterial organisms that disrupt the normal gastrointestinal functioning, or where the organisms result in water being drawn into the bowel. On the other hand, osmotic diarrhea results where the gut fails to break down for absorption what it has ingested. With both types, the food that a person eats will pass through the intestines too quickly. This results in the failure of the body to absorb important nutrients, and waste products cannot combine and unify, hence the watery stool.
The following are some of the causes of infectious diarrhea:
- Parasites like Entamoeba histolytica, Giarda lamblia and Cryptosporidium
- Viral infections such as viral hepatitis, Norwalk virus, rotavirus, cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex
- Bacterial infections like E.coli, Shigella bacteria, Salmonella and Campylobacter
The causes of osmotic diarrhea include:
- Digestive disorders like IBD, celiac disease and IBS. It is a common IBS symptom
- Intolerance to some food compounds like artificial sweeteners and lactose
- Food poisoning
- Removal of the gall bladder
- Use of medications like some antacids, blood pressure medications and antibiotics
- Radiation therapies that involve high dosages and chemotherapy
People most likely to develop the condition
Diarrhea is very common and affects people regardless of age. However, the condition usually develops more easily in children (also because of their tendency to put in the mouth non-food objects of all sorts), in people that have digestive disorders and in travellers in places with unfamiliar food and contaminated water. Antibiotics usually interrupt the good bacteria in the gut; hence the use might also lead to the disease.
This condition is not usually diagnosed, though the doctor could perform some tests such as:
- Fasting tests
- Physical examination and medical history
- Imaging tests
- Blood tests
The conventional treatment
In most cases, acute diarrhea clears up on its own within a couple of days, hence it does not require extensive or specialized treatment. The most important thing to do, though, is to ensure that the person affected replenishes the lost fluids, the electrolytes and the salts in order to prevent the body from getting severely dehydrated. The person should therefore drink plenty of water and formulas that are rich in electrolytes in order to maintain the body’s osmotic balance.
Apart from that, there are anti-diarrheal medications that can also be used. These medications include bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), loperamide (Imodium) and kaopectate pectin solution. The medications usually reduce the progression of the symptoms, but they do not lead to a faster recovery. The use of these medications could prolong or worsen diarrhea caused by bacteria or parasites, so a doctor should still be seen if the condition hasn’t resolved itself after three days.
Doctors usually prescribe antibiotic medications for the treatment of conditions caused by bacterial or parasite infections. The use of antibiotics for treating other body conditions may result in the disturbance on the normal functioning of the gut bacteria. This might result in the growth of bacteria that are dangerous to the alimentary canal, hence it may result in acute diarrhea. This situation requires immediate medical attention which usually results in the discontinuation of the antibiotic treatment, so that the gut can adjust to its natural bacteria. People suffering from diarrhea should only eat specific foods and stay away from certain foods as they can even worsen the symptoms. The foods to avoid include the following:
- Spicy foods
- Fatty foods
- Milk and dairy products
On the other hand, foods that the body can tolerate include:
- Boiled potatoes
- Plain rice
- Cooked chicken
- Cooked carrots
Food rich in fibre, usually also suggested as part of an IBS diet, can cause some discomfort, but it also relieves the symptoms as it facilitates the excrement coalescence in the intestines.
How to stop diarrhea?
Apart from the foods and diets already discussed above, there are other several safe and effective remedies that doctors recommend. They are as follows:
- Regular use of probiotics. Probiotics are rich in healthy bacteria. They therefore populate the digestive tract with the bacteria. According to Dr. Weil, you should take one or two capsule supplements of probiotics or one tablespoon with meals. Probiotics should be taken twice daily together with meals if you are taking antibiotics. After you complete your dosage of antibiotics, continue with the probiotic intake for a few more days.
- Adopt the “BRAT” diet, a mnemonic for Bananas, Rice, Apple sauce and Toast. You should add these foods to your diet and use them frequently. However, they should not used in place of a normal balanced diet.
- Carob powder is usually used to soothe intestines that are irritated. Begin with just a tablespoon mixed in applesauce and some honey to make it tastier, and take it when your stomach is empty.
Have a look at our Useful Resources page for more information on how to finally stop diarrhea and live a better life!
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