Excerpted from "A Year of Health Hints"
365 Practical Ways to Feel Better and Live Longer
Diarrhea is roughly the opposite of constipation-frequent,
loose bowel movements. Almost everyone experiences diarrhea once
in a while, but it's rarely serious and doesn't last more than a
day or two. But oh, the agony! Stomach cramps or frequent (and
inconvenient) bowel movements can make life miserable.
Diarrhea can result from various problems, including:
parasites, bacteria, or a virus)
contaminated water or eating contaminated food while traveling in
A variety of
infectious organisms can cause "traveler's diarrhea."
(See Tips 294 and 295 in chapter
13, The Healthy
in the gastrointestinal tract
medications, including some antibiotics (like tetracycline,
cleocin, and ampicillin)
(inflammation of tiny sacs protruding from the intestines)
disease (primarily ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease)
With more fluid than usual being flushed out of your body,
dehydration is a potential problem, especially with infants and
children, who have less fluid to spare than adults. So the first
course of action is to drink plenty of clear fluids, like ginger
ale, broth, bouillon, herb tea, or just plain water. Even sucking
on ice chips helps.
Other steps to control diarrhea include:
Eat little or
no solid food for the first few days. Jell-0 is okay; it counts
as a clear liquid.)
When diarrhea is
waning, follow a B.R.A.T. diet: ripe bananas, rice, applesauce,
and toast. These
foods tend to be
constipating, and should be the first things you eat after a bout
Once the diarrhea
has subsided, eat small amounts of semisoft foods, like cooked
away from protein and
high-fiber foods like whole-grain bread and bran cereal.
Avoid eating raw
fruits and vegetables, fried foods, and sweets, or drinking
coffee, all of which are
hard on your digestive
activity until bowel activity returns to normal.
Try Kaopectate or
other nonprescription remedy containing bismuth. (Follow package
to the letter.)
If diarrhea doesn't let up within 48 to 72 hours, or if you
notice blood in your stool, contact your doctor for advice.