We’ve all experienced cases of diarrhea at some point in our lives. Common symptoms of diarrhea include frequent watery stools, abdominal pain, and bloating.
Diarrhea is often your body’s way of dealing with disruptions in your gastrointestinal system. Bad cases of diarrhea can come from many sources, such as:
- a viral infection
- a bacterial infection
- food poisoning
- contaminated water
- certain kinds of surgery
- certain gastrointestinal diseases
Diarrhea is common with young children and often caused by a viral infection. Traveler’s diarrhea is another common type of diarrhea. It can occur if you travel to underdeveloped areas with unpurified water.
Read on for some of the most effective ways to relieve a bad case of diarrhea.
1. Over-the-counter drugs
With your doctor’s supervision, several over-the-counter medications can help with diarrhea. These medications include bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), attapulgite (Kaopectate), and loperamide (Imodium). While these drugs can relieve the symptoms of diarrhea, they don’t treat the underlying cause.
If you have chronic diarrhea, you shouldn’t use these drugs without your doctor’s consent. Chronic diarrhea is a case of diarrhea that lasts more than 14 days.
You should be especially cautious if your child has diarrhea. Dehydration resulting from diarrhea can be dangerous for very young children. Speak with your doctor before giving them any medications, especially those containing salicylates or aspirin.
2. Avoid certain foods
Watching what you eat and drink is very important when you have diarrhea. Dehydration from diarrhea can be fatal in young children and older adults. The most important thing you can do is to keep hydrated.
Alcohol, milk, soda, and other carbonated or caffeinated drinks may make symptoms worse. Fried and greasy foods, as well as dairy products, are usually not well tolerated. You can decrease bloating by avoiding fruits and vegetables that can cause gas, such as:
Probiotics are natural, over-the-counter remedies for diarrhea. They’re essentially “live bacteria” that exist in certain foods like yogurt. They also come in powder or pill form.
Antibiotics often kill off the “good bacteria” that live in your intestine. This can lead to diarrhea. Probiotics may help restore the good bacterial in your gut. Lactobacillus GG, acidophilus, and bifidobacteria are three common types of probiotics.
4. Saccharomyces boulardii
Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii) is yeast that works to restore your gut function. While it’s not a bacterium, it acts like one. S. boulardii can be most effective for antibiotic-associated diarrhea. It can also provide relief for traveler’s diarrhea. Studies suggest it may help your intestines fight off unwanted pathogens and ensure they’re absorbing nutrients properly. It should be used with caution in people with inadequate immune systems.
Acupuncture may not be the first thing you think of when looking for a remedy for diarrhea. However, Chinese scientists have seen positive results using acupuncture points to treat acute diarrhea in children with cerebral palsy.
Some studies suggest acupuncture can change how the intestinal tract moves. This may give relief to adults suffering from diarrhea or constipation.
When other solutions haven’t worked, some people turn to traditional homeopathic supplements for relief. These supplements include:
- Arsenicum album
- Veratrum album
- Calcarea carbonica
- chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Each of these remedies claims to treat a specific type of diarrhea. Trying any of these remedies on your own isn’t recommended. These treatments have not been consistently proven in medical trials to be effective. Professionals who practice homeopathy should consider all your symptoms, as well as your health history, to determine a diagnosis and treatment. Speak with your doctor before trying these diarrhea remedies.