Fast treatment for diarrhea may depend on what’s causing it. That said, taking antidiarrheal medications and avoiding certain foods may help you manage your symptoms.

Diarrhea is when you experience loose and wet stools multiple times per day.

Treatment may depend on the duration, severity, and underlining cause of your symptoms. But certain remedies may quickly help harden your stool and relieve symptoms of diarrhea.

When to see a doctor

Diarrhea that lasts more than 2 days may be a sign of a serious health problem. Get immediate medical help if you develop any of the following symptoms:

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Diarrhea may go away on its own without treatment. But certain over-the-counter (OTC) medications could help relieve your symptoms faster.

Loperamide (imodium) may help slow down the movement of fluid through your intestines. This may help restore normal bowel function and prevent dehydration.

Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) may also help treat diarrhea by:

  • reducing intestinal inflammation
  • increasing the amount of fluid your intestines absorb
  • blocking toxins and killing other bacteria

If you have other symptoms of diarrhea, such as bloody stools or fever, then speak with a doctor before trying these OTC medications.

Certain foods and fluids may soften your stool or increase your bowel movements. Trigger foods may include:

  • eggs, gluten, and dairy products
  • processed, fatty, and spicy foods
  • proteins, such as steak, pork, and salmon
  • certain vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots
  • acidic fruits, such as berries, lemons, and oranges
  • very hot or cold drinks
  • alcohol, coffee, and tea

Probiotics are live microorganisms (healthy bacteria) in your digestive tract. A bacterial imbalance in your gut may result in diarrhea.

Taking probiotic supplements or eating probiotic foods might help restore this balance by providing high levels of good bacteria. This could restore normal bowel function and shorten the duration of diarrhea.

That said, further research is still needed to fully claim these benefits.

Speak with a doctor before taking probiotic supplements.

Diarrhea may be caused by bacteria and parasites in contaminated food or water. This type of diarrhea is known as traveler’s diarrhea because it most commonly occurs when traveling.

Antibiotics work by fighting off infections caused by bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli.

Keep in mind that antibiotics are ineffective when viral infections cause diarrhea.

If you’re unsure about what’s causing your diarrhea, speak with a doctor.

The BRAT diet was traditionally used to help relieve symptoms of diarrhea in young children.

BRAT stands for:

This diet may be effective because the foods are bland, starchy, and low in fiber.

Other similarly bland foods include:

These foods may have a binding effect in the digestive tract, which makes stools bulkier, and they typically won’t irritate your digestive tract.

That said, the BRAT diet shouldn’t be followed for more than 2 days because it doesn’t provide a balanced, nutritious diet. If your diarrhea continues, get medical attention.

There are various causes of acute or chronic diarrhea.

Acute diarrhea may last up to 4 days and will typically improve on its own. It may be caused by:

Chronic diarrhea could last for more than 1 month and may be a sign of a serious condition. Common causes include:

Healthy hygiene habits like regularly washing your hands and fully cooking food could save you from catching a stomach bug.

Viral and bacterial infections may be caught through:

The rotavirus vaccine may prevent severe illness from bacteria in young children.

Keeping a symptom journal may also help you identify key triggers of diarrhea, such as certain foods, fluids, or medications.

This could be useful while doing an elimination diet, as this may help you identify these triggers.

If you have a condition or digestive disorder, speak with a doctor. They could help you come up with a healthcare plan that works for you.

What helps diarrhea go away?

In most cases, diarrhea will go away on its own without treatment.

That said, depending on what’s causing your diarrhea, certain remedies may help it go away faster, including:

  • over-the-counter (OTC) medications
  • avoiding certain foods
  • staying hydrated
  • antibiotics
  • probiotics

How long does diarrhea last?

Acute diarrhea may last between 1 and 4 days. Persistent diarrhea may last between 2 and 4 weeks.

Chronic diarrhea may last longer than 1 month.

If you’re experiencing diarrhea for more than 2 days, get medical attention.

What food stops diarrhea?

Foods that are starchy, bland, and low in fiber may temporally help reduce diarrhea.

These may include:

  • bananas
  • rice or rice water
  • applesauce
  • toast
  • potatoes
  • saltine crackers
  • clear broth

These foods may make your stool bulkier because they could have a binding effect in the digestive tract.

Should you let diarrhea run its course?

Whether or not you just let the diarrhea run its course can depend on the cause and on how long you have symptoms. Acute diarrhea usually resolves quickly, especially if it’s caused by a virus.

Some cases of bacterial or parasytic infections causing diarrhea will need antibiotics to shorten the course of illness. Diarrhea becomes chronic if it goes on for more than 4 weeks.

See your doctor if it’s still not resolved after this amount of time, or if your symptoms are severe enough that you feel you need urgent treatment.

Diarrhea may come and go within 24 hours, or it may last for weeks and disrupt your daily activities.

If you’re experiencing other symptoms, such as bloody stools and chills, speak with a doctor. This may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Remedies like OTC medications, reducing your fiber intake, and avoiding foods that irritate your digestive system may help quickly relieve your symptoms of acute diarrhea.