Home Remedies for Diarrhea
Diarrhea is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but generally no big deal in otherwise healthy adults. However, if diarrhea becomes a chronic condition, the situation changes. Or if it affects the very young, the elderly, or the chronically ill, it can be dangerous.
Besides that, if you’re not careful to drink enough fluids, you could find yourself complicating what should have been a simple enough situation.
You can lose a lot of liquid in diarrhea, but you also lose electrolytes, minerals such as sodium and potassium that are critical in the running of your body. Here’s how to replace what you’re losing:
- Drink plenty of fluids. Consume two quarts (eight cups) of fluids a day, three quarts (12 cups) if you’re running a fever. Plain water lacks electrolytes, but it’s a good, gentle-on-the-tummy option that can help you replace some of the fluid that you’ve lost. Other choices include weak tea with a little sugar, sports drinks such as Gatorade, flat soda pop (decaffeinated flavors such as ginger ale are best), and fruit juices other than apple and prune, which have a laxative effect.
Whatever you choose to drink, keep it cool; it will be less irritating that way. Sip, don’t guzzle; it will be easier on your insides if you take frequent sips of liquid instead of guzzling down a glass at a time.
Look for yogurt with live cultures. These “cultures” are friendly bacteria that can go in and line your intestines, providing you with protection from the bad guys. If you’ve already got diarrhea, yogurt can help produce lactic acid in your intestines, which can kill off the nasty bacteria and get you feeling better, faster.
Live-culture yogurt (kefir) is also the best way to treat diarrhea caused by oral antibiotics. The antibiotics kill beneficial bacteria in the intestines, but live-culture products replenish those bacteria. Better still, use these from the time you begin the medication, and you may avoid the diarrhea altogether.
If you’re not very young or old or suffering from any chronic illness, it may be safe just to put up with it for a couple of days. After all, it’s often your body’s natural way of getting rid of something that shouldn’t be there to begin with.
Try resting in bed and sipping any broth, but have it lukewarm instead of hot, and add a little salt to it if it’s not already salty. A heating pad on your belly may also help relieve abdominal cramps.
Avoid some certain foods
Avoid milk, cheese, and other dairy products (except yogurt, unless you don’t usually tolerate it well) while you have diarrhea as well as for one to three weeks after it stops. The small intestine, where milk is digested, is affected by diarrhea and simply won’t work as well for a while.
Just as it stimulates your nervous system, caffeine jump-starts your intestines. And that’s the last thing you need when you have diarrhea. High concentrations of sugar can also increase diarrhea. The sugar in fruit can do the same.
Eat starchy foods
Starchy foods, such as precooked rice or tapioca cereals, can help ease your tummy. Prepare the cereal according to the directions on the box, making it as thick as you can stomach it. Just avoid adding too much sugar or salt, as these can aggravate diarrhea. It’s probably a good idea to avoid oatmeal, since it’s high in fiber, and your intestines can’t tolerate the added bulk during about with diarrhea.
Potatoes are another starchy food that can help restore nutrients and comfort your stomach. But eating French fries won’t help. Fried foods tend to aggravate an aching tummy. Other root vegetables, such as carrots (cooked, of course) are also easy on an upset stomach. Also, they are loaded with nutrients.
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