Some things can really ruin a day. A jellyfish sting, a sprained ankle, and right up there at the top of the list is a crampy, painful bout of diarrhea. Whether it’s your own or you’re caring for someone else who’s going through it, diarrhea is the uncomfortable brother of constipation. But while there are ways to make yourself poop right away, it’s a bit trickier to stop diarrhea. Luckily, there are ways to treat diarrhea and relieve most of the symptoms, some quicker than others.
Looking for more good news? Diarrhea is usually not serious and most cases clear on their own. Per the Mayo Clinic, diarrhea is usually caused by a virus, contaminated food, or a disorder like inflammatory bowel syndrome. If you find that you’re getting diarrhea more often than usual, it might be time to consult your doctor or even a nutritionist if you think it might be a food-related issue. If your diarrhea doesn’t clear on its own and starts to persist, you should also call your healthcare provider as you might need antibiotics or intravenous fluids, since really severe diarrhea cases can cause dehydration.
This is why the first rule of treating diarrhea is to keep hydrating. While you may be uncomfortable, force yourself (or your kid, partner, or friend) to drink as much water as possible to restore electrolytes and sodium that your body loses with each bowel movement. If things get rough, you can also drink something with electrolytes in it, like a sports drink or Pedialyte. You can also make a concoction with one liter of water, half a teaspoon of salt, and six teaspoons of sugar, per Medical News Today. This mixture helps your intestines absorb fluids quicker and more efficiently. Aside from drinking fluids, here’s what else you can do.
Foods That Help Stop Diarrhea
When you’re experiencing diarrhea, the last thing you want to do is eat something that might make it worse. This is why you should follow the low fiber “BRAT” diet, per Healthline. This includes bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, all foods that will help you get to more solid stools.
If the thought of eating applesauce or plain toast just isn’t for you, there are other simple foods you can try that are high in potassium and pectin, which again, will help “bulk” up your stool, per the outlet. Try eating:
- fruit, for pectin
- potatoes, for potassium
- miso soup, which has electrolytes
- oatmeal or roast chicken without the skin, for some protein
You definitely want to avoid the following foods if you have diarrhea, though:
- ice cream
- green leafy vegetables
Medicine to Treat Diarrhea
Sometimes you just don’t have the time to stay at home, sip miso broth, and just wait for diarrhea to pass. We lead busy lives! There are things to do! And sometimes those things don’t involve easy access to a bathroom (hello, your kids’ soccer games). In those cases, you might want to go with some medicine that will help clear your diarrhea quickly so you can get on with all of the errands and things you have to do throughout the day.
For kids and infants under 3 months old experiencing symptoms of diarrhea should head to the pediatrician right away as soon as you notice their loose stool.
For adults, taking an over-the-counter medication like Imodium, which has an active ingredient called loperamide that stops fluids moving through the intestines, may be the best bet. Pepto-Bismol’s active ingredient is bismuth subsalicylate, which kills bacteria that causes diarrhea in the first place, and works a tad more slowly.
There are many options when it comes to treating your diarrhea, whether homeopathic or medical. The most important thing is to remember that it will (hopefully) be over soon.
How to Wipe after Diarrhea
Honestly, having diarrhea is half the battle. The other part is about wiping and staying clean during the ordeal. Here are a few maintenance tips to keep in mind when dealing with diarrhea.
- Break out the wet wipes (or baby wipes). This will give you a deeper clean than dry toilet paper.
- Wipe from front to back. We know this is one of the first rules of potty training, but especially with diarrhea, it’s imperative to keep that bacteria away from your urethra.
- Try not to over wipe or too hard. You can damage your skin which can cause irritation.
How to Soothe a Sore Bum from Diarrhea
Unfortunately, diarrhea can cause the skin around your anus to become very irritated and raw. So, to help relieve that pain, follow these tips below:
- When wiping, try to use soft toilet paper or a wet cotton cloth.
- Take a warm bath to help repair and alleviate the inflamed skin. When drying off, be gentle and pat the skin dry.
- Stay away from tight underwear until the irritation has subsided.
- Avoid a super-steamy hot bath. The hot water can irritate the chafed skin.
- Try not to sit for long periods of time. But if you must, sit on a cushion.
- Apply some diaper rash cream to your bottom. This will protect the skin around your anus from diarrhea. You can also try petroleum jelly or vitamin A or D cream, which is also effective.
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