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Frequent and watery bowel movements characterize diarrhea. Everyone at some point of time experiences this stomach problem. Diarrhea is commonly caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It may also result from certain medicines, lactose, fructose and certain artificial sweeteners. Diarrhea may also occur in some people post surgery related to the abdomen or gallbladder. Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and some cancers are medical conditions which may cause chronic diarrhea. Apart from causing frequent occurrences of loose and watery stools, diarrhea may also trigger abdominal cramps/pain, fever, bloating and blood in the stool depending on the underlying cause.

How to Manage Diarrhea At Home

# A common complication of diarrhea is loss of a significant amount of water and salts from the body. This may put the affected person at a severe risk of dehydration. So it is important to drink plenty of clear fluids including water, broths and fruit juices (without pulp) until symptoms improve. Experts recommend to drink 1 cup of fluid following an episode of loose bowel movement.

# White rice, mashed potatoes, boiled carrots, and pasta are good sources of starch that help manage diarrhea as they firm loose bowel movements.

# Applesauce is also an effective remedy for diarrhea. It is rich in pectin and this substance also aids in firming soft or liquid bowel movements.

# Diarrhea causes severe loss of electrolytes from the body. Bananas are rich in potassium and can help restore the potassium levels. However, it is recommended to take green/unripe bananas and not the ripe ones. Furthermore, green bananas are also rich in pectin.

# Apart from what have been mentioned above, foods which are permissible during bouts of diarrhea include:
  • Clear soup
  • Gelatin
  • Noodles
  • Pretzels
  • Apricots
  • Soda crackers
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Toast
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Mild white fish
  • Lean beef
  • Skinless chicken
# Among the family of dairy products, yogurt is the only one that is permissible during diarrhea. Yogurt with active or live cultures helps restore the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut and this aids to the treatment of diarrhea.

# Speaking of herbal treatment/remedy for diarrhea, many people have benefited from:
  • Tea made from the agrimony herb
  • Tea made from fresh or dried bilberries
  • Marshmallow root
  • Psyllium seeds
Note: Herbs are not completely free of side effects. Therefore, it is important to consult your healthcare provider or doctor before using them.

# Foods to avoid during bouts of diarrhea include:
  • Caffeine products
  • Alcohol
  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Too much of high-fiber foods
  • Gas producing foods (beans, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, and cereals)
  • Dairy products
  • Highly spiced foods
Most people with diarrhea recover within a few days with no long-term complications. However, the condition could affect children more severely than adults. Small children can easily become dehydrated because of diarrhea. If they show signs such as urinating lesser than normal, being lethargic or drowsy, having cold hands and feet or a pale skin, then they must be taken to a pediatrician without any delay. Small children, particularly those younger than one year or 6 months, and those with low-birth weight are more susceptible to become dehydrated if they have diarrhea. So it is advisable to take them to a doctor at the earliest instead of relying on any home remedies or the like.

In case of adults, even after following the above self-care measures if diarrhea persists for more than three days, and/or is accompanied by dehydration, black stools, rectal pain and a high fever (102 F), then medical attention becomes a necessity to evade any severe complications.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.