Most of us have experienced diarrhea every now and then. Diarrhea can cause a lot of discomfort and can lead to some embarrassing moments if the individual is in public. If an individual has diarrhea and not sure what to do, there are measures to manage the condition. The treatment may depend on the exact cause of the diarrhea in the first place.
When to use medications
There are over-the-counter medications that can help relieve diarrhea. Even though these medications do not cure diarrhea, they help minimize the frequency. Remember that these medications should not be taken if the individual has fever or there is blood in the stool.
Antibiotics are not typically used in managing diarrhea. Most cases of diarrhea are caused by either virus or contaminated food or beverage. Remember that antibiotics will not help in such cases since they only eliminate bacteria. In some cases, antibiotics can be used as long as the doctor determined that the symptoms were caused by bacteria.
There are no ideal foods to eat while having diarrhea. If the individual has diminished appetite, the suitable foods to eat are bland, starchy foods since they are easiest on the stomach.
Increased fluid intake
A vital part of treatment when an individual has diarrhea is to drink more fluids to avoid dehydration. The individual should stay hydrated and this can be difficult if he/she have frequent or watery diarrhea.
It is recommended to drink more water, electrolyte-based fluids or even fruit juices that are diluted. The ideal fluids to drink when an individual has diarrhea should contain water, salt and sugar to replace those that are excreted from the body.
Adults who are properly hydrated should urinate every 3-5 hours and the urine should be clear or light yellow in appearance. In case the urine is dark yellow or the frequency is reduced, it is vital to rehydrate and if not possible, a doctor should be consulted or seek medical care. Take note that children should urinate every 6-8 hours. If the child has diarrhea and lethargic or will not play for 4 hours of more, consult a doctor.
When to seek medical care
Diarrhea is described as having three or more watery or loose bowel movements in a day. In most cases, the condition resolves on its own in a span of a few days, oftentimes persisting to a week. In some cases, diarrhea can become severe which requires medical care. If the following are present, it is best to seek medical care as soon as possible:
- Stool contains blood and looks like black tar
- Frequent watery diarrhea and signs of dehydration
- Several stools with mucus and blood
- Severe abdominal pain with diarrhea especially if not relieved with passing stool
- Individuals over 69 years old and those who have a compromised immune system
- Frequent and severe diarrhea after using antibiotics
In most cases, diarrhea can be managed at home without requiring medical care, but consulting a doctor might be needed in some cases.