Diarrhea

Home and medical treatment for diarrhea

Diarrhea is the medical term for experiencing loose, watery stools and the frequent need to evacuate the bowels. It's a condition that nearly everyone encounters at some point in their lives; some people are more prone to it than others and may find themselves with a case of it just by eating certain foods. For other people, the condition may be caused by bacteria, such as in a case of food poisoning.

Instances of diarrhea can range from mild to severe. In mild cases, the diarrhea may pass within a day or two and will simply be an inconvenience, while serious instances can last longer and can be accompanied by debilitating pain.

Diarrhea Symptoms

Loose stool isn't an uncommon occurrence, but not all instances of loose stool are classified as diarrhea. Symptoms of diarrhea include an urgency to evacuate the bowels, pressure in the bowel and stomach cramping. Gas and bloating may also be symptoms of diarrhea, depending on the cause of the condition.

Diarrhea Causes and Treatment

Treatment for diarrhea is not always necessary, as many cases are mild. The best home remedy for diarrhea is to simply let your stomach work itself out and to let the diarrhea run its course, eating lightly and drinking plenty of fluids. Tea and ginger ale are generally recommended to help settle the stomach.

If standard diarrhea remedies are not sufficient and your diarrhea persists (or if you have chronic diarrhea), it could be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as Crohns disease or irritable bowel syndrome. You should arrange to see a doctor as soon as possible, so he or she can evaluate your symptoms and start you on a treatment plan. If your instance of diarrhea is particularly painful and you're having trouble digesting any food or fluids, speak to your doctor right away. He or she may put you on an IV of electrolytes as a form of severe diarrhea treatment.

How to Stop Diarrhea From Happening in the First Place

To avoid diarrhea altogether, you need to identify particular foods that cause diarrhea or cooking methods that trigger the condition. If you're prone to the condition, you may want to incorporate certain foods to stop diarrhea. Foods like bananas, toast, applesauce and yogurt can all help add bulk to stool and balance out bacteria in the intestines.

Infant Diarrhea and Toddler Diarrhea

In the case of infants and toddlers, we need to treat diarrhea differently than we treat it in adolescents and adults. In many cases, we cannot simply alter the diet and wait for the digestive system to get things back in order. The body of an infant or a toddler is much more susceptible to dehydration than the body of an adult.

Infant bowel movements naturally come in a variety of colors and textures, so you should not be alarmed if your child produces a bowel movement that is loose. However, what you want to watch for are bowel movements that are suddenly and unexpectedly watery, more frequent and more profuse. If you notice any combination of these characteristics, it could be a case of baby diarrhea.

If you suspect diarrhea, watch for signs of dehydration like infrequent urination, dry mouth, lack of tears, lethargy or irritability. Call your child's health care provider if you notice any of these symptoms. If you child has a fever, shows signs of abdominal pain or has blood in his or her stool, call your health care provider immediately.