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Health & Wellness

Everything You Ever Did or Did Not Want to Know About Diarrhea Remedies!

Diarrhea is not a pleasant thing to suffer from. It is a condition that is not feared much today, but dysentery, as it is also known, can actually be fatal if it is not treated properly. Diarrhea can affect anyone, and it can strike at unexpected times. It can be difficult to treat, and the best thing to do is to manage the symptoms until they clear up. Because of this, knowing how to take care of yourself if you experience diarrhea is important.

What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is the term used to describe loose and watery bowel movements. If you experience loose stools three times or more over the course of one day, then you have diarrhea. 1

In most cases, diarrhea will clear up after a day or two by itself, and it is not dangerous. However, some serious attacks can last several weeks and may be a sign of an underlying infection. In that case, it is much more dangerous and you must take care to avoid dehydration.

Symptoms of diarrhea include: 2

  • Repeated, urgent need to use the bathroom

  • Loss of control of the bowels

  • Pain and cramping of the abdomen

Some people who have diarrhea caused by an infection may also experience vomiting, blood in their stools, fever, chills, and dizziness.

man with gastroenteritis What Causes Diarrhea?

Diarrhea can be caused by many different factors. It is most commonly caused by a condition called gastroenteritis, which is brought on by infection. The infection could be a parasite from by drinking infected water or it could be a virus such as rotavirus, or a bacteria such as Campylobacter or E. coli , which may be caught from eating contaminated food. 3

Not all bouts of diarrhea are infection-related. It can also occur because of allergies, severe anxiety, or even conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 4

Is Diarrhea Dangerous?

An acute attack of diarrhea—one that lasts just one to two days—is distressing but is not usually dangerous. As long as you take precautions to stay clean and avoid spreading the infection, there should be no serious issues. However, chronic diarrhea—diarrhea that lasts for two to four weeks—may be much more serious.

For some, even chronic diarrhea proves to be little more than a nuisance. For others, especially those who have a weakened immune system, it can be a serious issue. 5 With chronic diarrhea, there is a serious risk of dehydration and malabsorption.

Because foods are passing through your body so quickly, there is not enough time for the intestines to absorb water from the food that you eat. You can replace that water by drinking more fluids, but that is not always going to be enough to stay healthy because it is not just liquid that you need. Your body also requires electrolytes, which are usually absorbed through foods. This is why people who have diarrhea are advised to take hydration salts. 6

People who have chronic diarrhea are also at risk of malabsorption. This is because they are not able to absorb other nutrients from the foods that they either. Prolonged malabsorption can lead to a number of nutrient deficiencies which may have their own complications.

woman drinking water How Can You Treat Diarrhea?

If you are suffering from diarrhea, the first thing that you should do is look in the toilet. If you see blood or pus in the stool, then call a doctor immediately because this could be a sign of something more serious than simply having eaten some bad food. 7

You should also call a doctor if you experience frequent bouts of diarrhea, diarrhea that has lasted for more than a few days, or if you are experiencing sudden, unexplained weight loss or any symptoms that make you think you might be dehydrated.

Acute diarrhea in adults can usually be treated with loperamide or bismuth subsalicylate (which go under the brand names Imodium and Pepto-Bismol). For most people, simply trying to stay hydrated, getting some rest, and staying close to a bathroom is enough to ride the infection out.

If a child has diarrhea, then you should not use over-the-counter medicines to treat them. Simply keep them hydrated, check on them regularly, and call your doctor if their condition does not improve after 24 hours. 8 Persistent or chronic diarrhea is harder to treat, and you should discuss treatment options with your doctor.

Natural Remedies for Diarrhea

If you have acute diarrhea and do not want to try taking over the counter medications, then there are a few options for you. Some people swear by mild and gentle foods to settle the stomach. Bananas are a good choice because they contain potassium, which is one of the electrolytes that you may be losing. Oatmeal, toast, and even rice can also help settle the stomach.

There are also some herbal remedies and essential oils that are popular with people who are suffering from diarrhea. Ginger, for example, is often used to help treat gastric distress during pregnancy and even for chemotherapy patients. 9 There is also evidence to suggest that chamomile can help reduce diarrhea symptoms. 10

One popular home remedy for diarrhea involves mixing one part chamomile flower and four parts water with a small amount of grain alcohol. This remedy reportedly helps to correct diarrhea and reduce cramping.

Cinnamon is also a popular herbal remedy that has been used for thousands of years and that is widely regarded as being a good treatment for stomach aches, nausea, and diarrhea. Many traditional remedies rely on the bark since it contains a significant amount of the essential oil.

How To Avoid Diarrhea

The most common causes of diarrhea in children are infections, since children often share toys, put things in their mouths, and tend to be careless about hygiene if they are not being closely watched by their parents or caregivers. Adults who are generally healthy tend to be less susceptible to diarrhea unless they are suffering from food intolerance or they are traveling.

Indeed the phenomenon of traveler's diarrhea is well-known. When people go abroad, especially to developing countries, they are more likely to suffer from infections. This is partly due to the toll that long-distance travel takes on the body and also partly due to issues such as differing standards for tap water.

As a general rule, when you go abroad to a developing country, be sure to:

  • Avoid drinking tap water

  • Use bottled water for everything

  • Make sure that other products you drink, such as milk or juice, have been pasteurized

  • Avoid unpasteurized cheeses and other dairy products

  • Make sure that any meat or fish you eat is fully cooked and served hot

  • Stay away from street vendors and eat only at licensed restaurants

If you are worried about suffering from travelers diarrhea, then discuss your plans with your doctor before you head abroad. They may be able to recommend some medicine that you can take if you find yourself stricken by diarrhea.

If you do suffer from diarrhea while you are abroad, then it is particularly important that you rest, avoid dehydration, and try to settle your stomach as quickly as possible. Drink bottled water and find safe foods that do not aggravate your stomach so that you can keep your strength up.


Diarrhea is not usually serious, but it can be quite upsetting to experience. Diarrhea can be particularly distressing for young children. Be patient, monitor the condition, and wait for the symptoms to pass.

Be sure to wash any clothing, bed sheets, or other items that may have been soiled and practice good hygiene when using the toilet to avoid passing the condition on to others in the household. Do not hesitate to call a doctor if you have any concerns or if the bout of diarrhea appears to be more than just an upset stomach. Confusion, dizziness, recurring infections, or very high temperatures could all be a sign of a more serious infection.

Photo credits: zentradyi3ell/, CHAjAMP/, fizkes/

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