Although diarrhea is often considered an annoying and bothersome disease to be afflicted with (and is not something you typically have to be seriously concerned about), experiencing it can still be worrisome. After all, this ailment is one of the most prevalent health problems in the world.
And even though diarrhea is a primary common health concern in developing countries, millions of people still get this disease each year from different parts of the globe. In fact, in 2014, 179 million cases of acute diarrhea were reported in the US alone.
The prevalence of diarrhea, unfortunately, is not the most troublesome fact about this disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this illness kills around 525,000 children under five each year. It also the leading cause of malnutrition in kids below five years old.
Since diarrhea can be a serious disease that can even cause death, it is crucial to know how to treat it when you have it. A good start is drinking doctor-recommended probiotics for adults and children.
Probiotic products can help you recover faster from diarrhea since they fight unhealthy bacteria or viruses and restore the balance of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract.
Additionally, below are eight dos and don’ts you have to remember when treating diarrhea:
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Severe dehydration is the leading cause of diarrhea-related deaths. As such, if you have this disease, it is important that you keep your body hydrated and replace the fluids you lose while you are sick.
Stick to drinking eight glasses of water per day. However, avoid consuming large amounts of fluids too quickly, especially when you are vomiting, since this can irritate your stomach and cause you to throw up more.
To avoid getting even sicker, sip water slowly every 15 minutes or so. It is also best to drink something with electrolytes to replace the fluids and chemicals lost when you have diarrhea. Clear broths and dilated fruit juices can also give your body additional nutrients which will help you recover faster from your illness.
Additionally, avoid consuming caffeinated and alcoholic drinks. This is because caffeine and alcohol can irritate the digestive tract and aggravate diarrhea.
Eat more simple carbohydrates or bland foods
When you have a bad case of diarrhea, simple carbohydrates are the best option. This is because these foods are bland and devoid of artificial flavorings and, as such, are easier for your gastrointestinal tract to digest.
Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are four of the best foods to consume when you have diarrhea. They are low in fiber, bland, and starchy, yet have enough nutrients to help replace the ones you lose. They also help firm up your stools.
Other foods you should eat more at this time are boiled potatoes, plain rice, rice cakes, noodles, crackers, and cooked carrots.
Eat small meals particularly when you feel hungry
Starving yourself because you want to avoid going to the bathroom can cause you to feel weak and could even aggravate dehydration. As such, it is important that you still eat while you are sick.
However, avoid eating large meals. Have five to six meals every day instead of three big ones so that your gastrointestinal tract can digest the food you consume faster and more easily.
Lastly, don’t force yourself to eat. Have a snack or meal when you feel hungry and don’t overeat. If you do, your symptoms may get worse.
Monitor the number of episodes you have
Note down all the times you have to go to the bathroom, including the ones when you vomit. Write down any other symptoms you have as well. These can include fever, stomach cramps, bloating, and nausea.
You have to document all of them since quantifying your symptoms can help your medical provider know if you have a mild condition or if you are at risk of severe complications.
Additionally, by giving your doctor accurate and concrete information about all your symptoms, you will enable them to determine the most helpful course of treatment for your health problem.
Ignore any serious symptoms
Aside from frequent bowel movements and loose stools, there are more serious symptoms that you may experience when you have diarrhea.
- Dark urine
- Blood or mucus in the stool
- Abdominal pain
If you experience these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
Also, if you have had diarrhea and have been vomiting for more than 48 hours, get medical attention quickly.
Ignoring these symptoms can lead to more severe, dangerous complications.
Eat anything you want
Choosing what you eat when you have diarrhea will help you recover faster.
Aside from eating only the foods listed above, avoid oily fare since these can worsen diarrhea. This means skipping fried chicken, pork chops, and beef temporarily.
Additionally, avoid fruits, vegetables, and sweet foods that cause gas. Prunes, berries, beans, peas, corn, cookies, and cakes can increase intestinal gas and thus aggravate your symptoms.
In case you are lactose intolerant, avoid dairy products too since consuming them can worsen your diarrhea.
Exercise or strain your body
While you are sick, avoid working out or engaging in any strenuous physical activities such as carrying heavy boxes or taking long walks.
Vigorous physical activities can cause dehydration, stomach distress, nausea, and heartburn, all of which can worsen your symptoms. To recover faster, avoid straining your body until your diarrhea subsides.
Neglect hand hygiene
Diarrhea can sometimes be transmitted by personal contact or from contaminated hands. To avoid spreading your illness, always wash your hands after using the bathroom. Do so before eating as well.
According to a study, proper and frequent hand washing can reduce episodes of diarrhea by about 30 percent.
Also, avoid handling other people’s food when you have diarrhea. This is because there is a risk that you may transmit some of your pathogens to the snacks or meals you are preparing, and this can cause the person eating them to get sick as well.
As a final tip, consider drinking over-the-counter medication if you want to feel relief faster. If you have severe symptoms, ask your doctor which medicine is best to take. Find out if you can also take probiotic supplements such as Enterogermina as well to restore the health of your gut flora.