Diarrhea is the frequent passing of loose or watery stools. There are essentially two types of diarrhea: acute and chronic. Most cases of diarrhea are acute, or short term. Acute diarrhea is also known as non-inflammatory diarrhea. Its symptoms typically involve frequent, watery stools accompanied by gas, stomach cramps, and sometimes nausea.
Acute diarrhea usually has a bacterial or viral cause. Gastroenteritis, mistakenly called the “stomach flu,” is one of the most common infections that cause diarrhea. Eating or drinking foods contaminated with bacteria can also cause diarrhea. Other causes of acute diarrhea include some antibiotics, lactose intolerance, sweeteners such as sorbitol, excess vitamin C, antacids containing magnesium, and some antibiotics.
Diarrhea is sometimes accompanied by abdominal cramps or fever. It may be caused by allergy or infection, or could be a sign of a serious disorder, such as Crohn’s Disease or inflammatory bowel disease.
Diarrhea can make you feel weak and dehydrated. In some people, diarrhea is mild and goes away in a few days. In others, it may last longer.
Diarrhea may also be caused by certain medical disorders, including:
- Celiac disease
- Lactose intolerance
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Malabsorption syndromes
Less common causes of diarrhea include:
- Disorders of the nerves that supply the intestines
- Removal of part of the stomach or small intestine
- Radiation therapy
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)
- Carcinoid syndrome
When to Contact Your Physician
Look for these signs of dehydration in children:
- Decreased urine (fewer wet diapers in infants)
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Sunken eyes
- Few tears when crying
- Dry mouth
- Blood or pus in stools
- Black stools
- Diarrhea with a fever above 101°F (100.4 °F in children)
- Recently traveled to a foreign country and developed diarrhea
- Stomach pain that does not go away after a bowel movement
Also call your doctor if:
The diarrhea gets worse or does not get better in 2 days for an infant or child, or 5 days for adults.
A child over 3 months old has been vomiting for more than 12 hours; in younger babies, call as soon as vomiting or diarrhea begins.
To stop diarrhea in children two and up:
Four carrots, one cup of rice, 5 or 6 cups of water. Boil the rice and the carrots in the water for 20 minutes. Let it rest. Divide in three equal parts and drink three times a day.
Home care for mild to moderate diarrhea in adults
- VSL #3 Probiotic for adults and Bifidus Balance+FOS for kids: Your first line of offense and defense from bacteria that causes diarrhea. Follow label directions.
- Garlic: Garlic has been proven to be 100 times more effective than antibiotics according to a study out of Washington State University and published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy in 2013.
- Bananas are full of potassium, which helps replace electrolytes. Bananas are also rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that helps to absorb liquid in the intestines and thus move stool along smoothly. In addition, they contain a good amount of inulin, another soluble fiber. Inulin is a prebiotic, a substance that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria probiotics in the intestinal system.
- One raw apple in the morning and mid-afternoon, no peel.
- Electrolytes: slice up one organic orange, one cucumber and one- two lemons and let soak in one pitcher filtered water. Sip throughout day.
- Yogurt with live cultures. Yogurt can help produce lactic acid in your intestines, which helps eliminate bad bacteria.
- Cooked Brown rice
- Cooked organic root vegetables
- Chicken broth (see recipe)
- Dried blueberries. In Sweden, doctors prescribe a soup made with dried blueberries for intestinal difficulties. Blueberries contain tannins, which combat diarrhea, and also are full of anthocyanosides, which have antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
Can help calm a spasming colon. For best results purchase chamomile flowers and steep 1 teaspoon of them and 1 teaspoon of peppermint leaves in 1 cup of boiling water for fifteen minutes. Drink 3 cups a day.Fenugreek
Because of the high mucilage content found in fenugreek seed, it is considered a useful herb for diarrhea. The seeds husks absorb water, resulting in bulkier stool. Mix 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds with filtered water and drink immediately.
- Other dairy products such as milk and cheese
- Fried foods
- Fruit juice