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.
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.
When dealing with a brief bout of diarrhea, you want to keep your diet bland. You may find it best to only have clear liquids for the first 24 hours. Then, you can slowly add bland foods to your diet. Some bland foods include bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast — otherwise known as the BRAT diet. Crackers and mashed potatoes (minus the butter) are also safe.
If your diarrhea lasts more than a few days, you might want to investigate the foods you are eating, as some can irritate your bowel and make diarrhea worse. These include foods high in fiber (bran, whole grains, brown rice) as well as greasy or excessively sweet foods. Foods that are sweetened with sorbitol may also aggravate diarrhea, Bickston says. If loose stools are a problem, then you may want to avoid these foods.
If you suspect your diarrhea is caused by a certain food, try an elimination diet. Cut the suspected food from your diet until you can determine whether or not it is a problem. If it’s not the problem, feel free to keep eating that food. “The difficulty I see in a lot of patients is that they don’t put things back into their diet even if they’re not causing a problem, and now they’ve painted themselves into a dietary corner,” Bickston says. “All they’re eating is mashed potatoes and rice.”
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:
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.
Your body can lose a lot of fluids and salts when you have diarrhea, making dehydration a major concern. Frequent loose and watery stools can quickly lead to fluid loss. Here are some easy ways to stay hydrated:
- Select sports drinks. “Sports drinks make sense and are available in a wide variety of flavors,” Dr. Bickston says. Sports drink work because of their sugar and salt content, both allow water to be more easily absorbed, and even more so when taken together. People can make their own sports drinks by adding a teaspoon of salt to a quart of apple juice, Bickston says. “That little amount of salt will help the body absorb fluids but isn’t enough to make the apple juice taste bad.” Bickston recommends keeping your drinks at room temperature because a warm drink will sit better with you than a cold one.
- Stick to clear liquids. Some other good choices for treating diarrhea include clear broth and water (unless you are traveling out of the country).
- Avoid drinks that can worsen symptoms. Caffeinated, alcoholic, and sugary drinks can worsen dehydration. Milk and other dairy products can make your symptoms feel worse because diarrhea can cause temporary lactose-intolerance.