5 simple home remedies for diarrhea

Diarrhea is a digestive problem that causes loose, watery bowel movements. It can be uncomfortable for a few hours or days, after which the symptoms should improve. In some instances, they last longer.

While diarrhea often goes away on its own, several home remedies can ease symptoms and speed up recovery.

1. Rehydrating

Hydrating the body is essential to recovering from diarrhea.

Diarrhea causes a deficit of fluids, including water. This causes the body to lose electrolytes such as sodium and chloride.

To support recovery, it is vital to restore fluids. Otherwise, a person may become dehydrated.

Dehydration can be dangerous in children and older adults, so it is crucial to encourage them to drink water if they are experiencing diarrhea.

Drinking water is the first step to rehydrating. A person can also to create an oral rehydration solution by mixing 1 liter of water with half a teaspoon of salt and 6 teaspoons of sugar.

Consuming sugar and salt with water helps the intestines to absorb fluids more efficiently. This solution more effectively rehydrates the body after a bout of diarrhea than water alone.

Other drinks can also be beneficial. For example, drinking sports drinks can help rehydrate the body and restore potassium and sodium. Fruit juices can also help restore potassium.

Avoid drinking anything that will further irritate the digestive tract, such as:

  • caffeinated drinks
  • alcohol
  • carbonated beverages
  • very hot drinks

It can help to avoid foods that could irritate or put pressure on the gastrointestinal tract, such as:

  • high-fat foods
  • greasy foods
  • spicy foods
  • foods containing artificial sweeteners
  • foods with high levels of fructose

Some doctors recommend avoiding dairy products, as they may worsen diarrhea in some people. While general evidence for this claim is limited, people with lactose intolerance should avoid these products.

Several over-the-counter medications are available for treating diarrhea.

Antimotility drugs can help reduce symptoms and speed up recovery time. A common example of this type of drug is loperamide (Imodium).

However, these medications are not always appropriate. People with bloody bowel movements or a fever should refrain from taking antimotility drugs and speak to a doctor instead.

When to see a doctor

In most cases, it is possible to treat diarrhea at home without consulting a doctor. However, if diarrhea lasts for more than 2 days, seek medical advice to avoid complications.

Other reasons to see a doctor for diarrhea include:

  • blood or pus in bowel movements
  • a fever
  • signs of dehydration, such as extreme thirst and dry mouth
  • chronic diarrhea
  • diarrhea during sleep
  • significant weight loss
  • severe abdominal pain

People at risk of complications, such as young children and older adults, should also see a doctor for treatment if diarrhea does not improve with time and home remedies.

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