Treating the underlying condition may help to relieve the diarrhea.
General recommendations for treating diarrhea include:
Drink Lots of Fluids
Plain water will not replace the electrolytes lost through diarrhea. For adults and children, look for age-specific oral rehydration solutions. Avoid fruit juices and soda. For young children, continue with breastfeeding or formula feeding.
Ask Your Doctor What You Should Eat
Doctors differ in their approach to treating diarrhea. For example, your doctor may recommend that you:
Drink only clear fluids during severe phases of diarrhea.
Avoid certain foods, such as: very spicy foods, fatty foods, greasy foods, high-fiber foods, dairy products in large amounts, and caffeinated drinks.
Eat certain foods, such as: complex carbohydrates like pasta and rice, yogurt, fruits and vegetables, and lean meats
Ask your doctor which dietary guidelines you should follow. As your diarrhea subsides, your usual healthy foods can be reintroduced.
Treat Abdominal Pain With Heat
Use a hot water bottle or heating pad on your abdomen to relieve cramps and pain.
Your doctor may recommend medicines, such as:
Antibiotics—May be needed if a bacterial infection is causing diarrhea
Probiotics, such as
Enterococcus faecium, and
Saccharomyces boulardii—May be beneficial in some cases
Children should not be given medicine unless specifically recommended by the doctor.
Diarrhea can cause severe dehydration. You may need to be hospitalized. Fluids will be delivered through an IV.
To reduce your chance of getting diarrhea:
Practice good handwashing.
Practice safe food preparation and food storage.
If you have diarrhea, do not prepare food for others.
If you are traveling:
Drink bottled water.
Use bottled water when brushing your teeth.
Avoid drinks that contain ice.
Do not eat food purchased from street vendors.
Do not eat raw vegetables or fruits. All produce should be peeled and/or cooked.
Make sure meats are cooked thoroughly.
Eat only pasteurized dairy products.
If you eat seafood, make sure it is very hot.
Rotavirus is a common cause of diarrhea in children under five years of age. There is a
to prevent rotavirus. The first dose is given at age two months. Make sure your infant has received this vaccine.
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Updated September 24, 2012. Accessed March 4, 2013.
King CK, Glass R, Bresee JS, Duggan C. Managing acute gastroenteritis among children: oral rehydration, maintenance, and nutritional therapy.
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Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.
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Primary Care Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins;2000.
Rotavirus vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccines/RotaVSB.html. Updated November 9, 2012. Accessed March 4, 2013.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Allen S, Martinez E, Gregorio G, Dans L. Probiotics for treating acute infectious diarrhoea.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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