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Diarrhea Symptoms, Relief and Prevention

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

What is a good treatment for adult diarrhea?


Need help now

Dear Need help now,

Diarrhea is frequent loose, watery stools often accompanied by bloating and abdominal cramps. Diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, medications, food sensitivities such as lactose intolerance, or intestinal diseases.

Call your physician if you have bloody or black stools, bad cramping, vomiting, or fever with temperature above 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

Diarrhea Treatment to Relieve Symptoms

In most cases, diarrhea will clear on its own in a couple days. Until diarrhea subsides, try the following:

1. Avoid foods that can aggravate it such as greasy fatty foods and milk products.

2. BRAT: Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast - add to regular diet.

3. Hydrate: Because diarrhea can cause dehydration, it is important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of liquids such as water, juices, Gatorade, and broth. Children may need a solution called ORS (oral rehydration solution) that contains glucose and electrolytes such as Pedialyte, Infalyte, Rehydralyte, or Resol, which can be found at your local drugstore.

4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

5. A nonprescription anti-diarrheal medication such as Imodium may help relieve the symptoms; follow the directions.

General Diarrhea Prevention

1. Wash hands often: always after using the restroom and before you eat.

2. Immediately refrigerate foods. Do not leave food out at room temperature.

3. Do not eat cooked foods that have sat out and no longer hot.

4. Dairy products should be pasteurized.

Travelers Diarrhea Prevention

If traveling to underdeveloped areas, then avoid tap water and choose foods carefully.

1. Drink bottled water or canned drinks, or hot drinks made from boiled water.

2. Avoid: ice, diary products, undercooked meat, fish and shellfish, salads, and uncooked vegetables and fruit that cannot be peeled.

3. Avoid swimming in contaminated pools, lakes, and rivers.

4. Brush teeth with bottled water.