Diarrhea is a medical condition that is characterized by the frequent passage of soft, loose, and watery stools; it can be accompanied by abdominal bloating but this does not happen in all cases.
Some people also experience flatulence or gas when having diarrhea. This is one of the most common illnesses of man, it affects all age groups and it accompanies most diseases. It ranges from mild to life-threatening.
It is estimated that an average adult has at least one episode of acute diarrhea every year while little children have an average of two episodes of acute diarrhea every year.
Some health experts view diarrhea as harmless in most cases; they explain that it is the deliberate way the body responds to manage disruptions in the digestive system. It cleanses the gastrointestinal tract from harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses by using large quantities of fluid to flush out the intestines.
Statistics has it that 2 billion cases of diarrhea are reported every year and 1.9 million children die every year from diarrhea, developing countries have the highest death rate. Diarrhea can lead to severe health problems if not properly treated; this is caused by severe loss of water (dehydration) and electrolytes.
Young children and elderly patients have an increased risk of death caused by moderate dehydration when they are having diarrhea.
Chronic diarrhea can also lead to malabsorption. Most times, diarrhea is not a sign of a serious problem but bloody or red diarrhea should not be ignored because it can be a sign of an underlying health problem.
Types of Diarrhea
- Chronic Diarrhea: This type of diarrhea is persistent for more than two weeks.
- Dysentery: This type of diarrhea is characterized by the presence of pus or mucus and it can also contain blood at times.
- Gastroenteritis: This is also known as stomach flu and it is most times accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and crampy abdominal pain.
- Acute Enteritis: This type of diarrhea is caused by an inflammation of the intestines.
Causes of Diarrhea
There are many causes of diarrhea but the most common ones are:
Bacterial infections: Bacteria cause more serious cases of diarrhea; this is usually transmitted through contaminated drinks and foods, this is also known as food poisoning.
They cause severe symptoms, diarrhea induced by bacteria is usually accompanied by severe abdominal cramps, vomiting, and fever. Explosive diarrhea is very common in diarrhea caused by bacteria.
Explosive diarrhea is a very forceful and violent expulsion of watery and loose stools and it is most times accompanied by gas. Pus, mucus, or blood can be present in the stools.
Viral infections: This is responsible for most cases of diarrhea; viruses cause mild to moderate diarrhea which is mostly characterized by a frequent watery bowel movement, a low-grade fever, and abdominal cramps.
Diarrhea induced by viruses usually lasts for 3 days to one week. Different types of viruses cause different types of diarrhea. Adenovirus infection can affect any age group. Rotavirus infections are common in infants and little children, while Norovirus is the most common cause of the diarrheal epidemic in adults and children.
Excessive use of Antibiotics: This leads to the overgrowth of yeast cells and other harmful bacteria in the intestines and this can induce diarrhea.
Other germs and parasites: When we drink contaminated water, we let harmful bacteria and other harmful germs and parasites invade our digestive system.
They cause diarrhea in turn. Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia, and Entamoeba histolytica are common parasites that cause diarrhea. Click here and learn ways you can expel parasites from your body.
Alcohol Abuse: Chronic alcoholism and binge drinking lead to diarrhea. Try and quit.
Diseases: Diabetic patients usually have diarrhea; this is called diabetic diarrhea and it is usually one of the complications of diarrhea. Diarrhea is also common in cancer patients.
Side effects of medications or reactions to medications: Medications that can cause diarrhea as side effects are antibiotics, cancer drugs, blood pressure drugs, gout medications, antacids containing magnesium, and weight loss drugs.
Radiation: Chemotherapy or radiation therapy cause loose stools and diarrhea that can last for three weeks after the treatment has ended.
Intestinal problems and disorders: This includes celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, malabsorption, irritable bowel syndrome, microscopic colitis, and diverticulitis all cause diarrhea. Diarrhea produced by these disorders is usually yellow in color.
Running: Running long distances or running hard causes diarrhea, this is known as “runner’s trots”. The reason why this happens is not yet clear.
Food intolerance: Allergies or intolerance to artificial sweeteners and other food additives can cause diarrhea. Lactose, the sugar found in milk also cause diarrhea in some people.
Digestive Surgery: Surgery done in the stomach or intestines can cause diarrhea.
Symptoms of Diarrhea
The main symptom or telltale sign of diarrhea is a watery or liquid stool; it is then accompanied by:
- Bowel movement urgency
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Stomach cramps
- Inability to control bowel movement
- Dark urine
- Sunken cheeks and eyes
- Less production of urine
- Weight loss
- Pus or blood in stools
Signs of Malabsorption
Malabsorption is the inability of the body to properly absorb nutrients from food eaten; this is a serious complication of diarrhea that can be life-threatening and so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Symptoms of malabsorption are:
- Rapid weight loss
- Gas and bloating
- Changes in appetite, most especially loss of appetite
- A foul-smelling bowel movement that is loose and greasy
Natural Remedies for Diarrhea
It is better to handle diarrhea in a natural way than taking anti-diarrheal drugs because they impair the natural ability of your body to handle this problem.
The drugs will help though, but they should only be taken when prescribed by a doctor or when these natural remedies don’t seem to help but it is not possible. These drugs can even give you serious side effects, some of them are: constipation, nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, depressed or difficulty breathing, confusion, a serious condition, necrotizing enterocolitis can occur.
This condition occurs when the lining of the intestinal wall dies. In some cases, deaths may occur. If you are vomiting while having diarrhea; do not eat anything for several hours. When you stop vomiting, sip little amounts of pure water, and other healthy liquids like herbal teas, fruit juices, bone broths, and then you gradually increase the quantities of fluid taken.
While you are still recovering from diarrhea; eat a low-fiber food. Doctors call this “the BRAT diet”, it is made up of Bananas, White Rice, Applesauce, and toast. Other foods you can eat that will also help you are potatoes, yogurt and other probiotic foods, organic skinless turkey or chicken, and peanut butter.
Some certain foods can aggravate the symptoms of diarrhea and they should be avoided until you recover; some of them are fried and fatty foods, cabbage, spicy foods, beans, coffee, soda, and other caffeinated drinks, etc.
Anti-diarrheal medications work by reducing the number of times you go to the toilet. Most times, diarrhea clears on its own, mostly after a few days, these simple but effective remedies will help you recover faster, prevent complications and stop diarrhea from getting worse.
These remedies will shorten the duration of diarrhea and work well without side effects; below are 24 effective remedies for diarrhea.
This will help prevent dehydration which can be very fatal in little children and elderly patients. Mothers should continue breastfeeding their little babies who are having diarrhea or they can use infant formulas.
Coconut water helps replace lost fluids and electrolytes; this prevents dehydration and loss of electrolytes which can be life-threatening. It is even used in the treatment of all types of diarrhea.
It replaces lost electrolytes, and it boosts the circulation of blood in the body and it helps you recover fast. Avoid coconut oil when having diarrhea because it contains medium-chain triglyceride that can worsen the condition. It can also induce vomiting, abdominal cramps, and nausea.
The rich content of fiber in oatmeal prevents loss of water from the body; it hold down liquids in the body, and you can eat oatmeal when you are having diarrhea without having any fear. Get a cup of oatmeal and half cup of buttermilk; add the buttermilk to the oatmeal and take it.do this twice daily till you recover.
This solution treats diarrhea caused by a bacterial infection. This is due to its rich content of probiotics and antibiotic properties. Pectin is also present in apple cider vinegar, this compound helps in treating intestinal spasms. Add some tablespoons of ACV into a glass of warm water and drink, you can add raw honey to boosts its sour taste.
Pumpkin contains soluble fiber, this help to harden your stools. It is also rich in potassium, it replaces lost electrolyte and offers faster relief for diarrhea. Eat a cup of fresh pumpkin two times every day till you get relief.
Orange Peel Tea
This is an effective traditional remedy for diarrhea, it treats digestive problems and stimulates digestion. Make sure you use organic oranges because non-organic orange peels contain pesticides and dyes. Peel an orange and cut the peel into tiny pieces. Make sure you wash the peel thoroughly, wash it under running water.
Put the peels inside a pot and pour boiling water over them. Cover the pot properly and let it steep until it is cool. Strain the drink and discard the peel; you can add a little honey for taste and then you drink this regularly till you recover.
The peel of orange contains pectin which makes your stool firm and it also increases the population of healthy bacteria in your gut and intestine.
This is a powerful herb that works wonders in the body, it treats a lot of health problems including diarrhea and it improves the functions of the digestive system and also boosts the immune system and help the body fight off infections.
You can chew fresh ginger roots, you can add it generously to your meals, you can take ginger herbal tea and other ways in which you can take in ginger.
When making ginger tea, you can add a little cumin and cinnamon powder to it. You can also add a little raw honey to improve the taste and boosts its effectiveness.
Applesauce helps in treating diarrhea by making your stools firm. This is because it contains pectin.
Soy milk maintains the health and functions of the digestive system; it is a good alternative to milk and diarrhea products which can be difficult to digest when one is having diarrhea.
It is light on the digestive system and also offers extra benefits by strengthening your bones. You can give soy milk to little children but make sure they are not allergic to it before giving them.
Probiotics are beneficial or healthy bacteria that help you fight off harmful bacteria and parasites. They kill and eliminate them from your body. Rich sources of probiotics are fermented foods, like plain yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and others.
This is an effective remedy for diarrhea in both little children and adults. It contains starch that helps prevent the loss of fluids and electrolytes from the body. It also soothes and relieves intestinal inflammation, one of the leading causes of diarrhea. It effectively treats diarrhea in young children and infants.
You will need three cups of water and a half cup of brown rice. Pour the water in a pot, add the rice and bring this mixture to boil on a low heat for at most 40 minutes. Strain the rice and take this water throughout the day. You can keep the water in the refrigerator and do this daily until you recover.
Organic buttermilk is an effective remedy for diarrhea, this is commonly used in Ayurveda medicine to heal diarrhea. Add a half tablespoon of ginger powder into a glass of buttermilk. Take this three times daily and you will see a great improvement.
There are lots of antioxidants present in green tea, they help in maintaining the proper functions of the body. Green tea soothes the digestive system and treats an upset stomach. It relieves diarrhea and its symptoms and it is particularly helpful against diarrhea caused by bacteria.
It is the best home remedy for Helicobacter pylori infection due to the presence of Catechins found in green tea. Drink three or more cups of green tea every day until you recover.
Chamomile tea eases diarrhea and it has a sedative effect on the body. It relaxes the body, it fights inflammation and relieves intestinal spasms.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
The active ingredient in olive oil is Oleic acid, it fights diarrhea and slows down the process of digestion. It activates some biochemical reactions in the intestine and this stops diarrhea and its symptoms.
Take a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on an empty stomach every morning till you recover and you should also take a tablespoon of olive oil before your meal time.
This wonderful herbal tea soothes intestinal discomfort and spasms, add a teaspoon of caraway seed to a cup of boiling water and leave for 15 minutes.
Strain it and then you can drink it.
This is a lovable remedy for diarrhea and it is safe for both kids and adults. It contains gelatin that binds to stools and stops diarrhea. It helps rehydrate the body and its rich content of tannins gives it an astringent and an antibacterial property. Dissolve jello powder in 2 cups of water, stir well and drink it before it sets.
Zinc improves your intestinal absorption of electrolyte and water; it heals your gut walls and repairs damages. It also boosts your immune system.
The strong antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties of garlic make it an effective remedy for diarrhea caused by harmful microorganisms.
The active ingredient in garlic, Allicin, kills any harmful microbe present in your gut which could be causing diarrhea. It also contains potassium which helps in replacing lost electrolyte or preventing the loss of electrolyte.
It also helps relieve some symptoms of diarrhea like inflammation of the intestine and abdominal pain. Take three to five cloves of garlic every day until you recover.
Peel the cloves of garlic and cut them into tiny pieces, expose them to air for a few seconds so that the active ingredient, Allicin can be activated by oxygen and then you swallow it with the help of a glass of water. You can also add it to your meals.
Peppermint Essential Oil
This powerful essential oil is an effective remedy for diarrhea; it can stop diarrhea caused by medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and it soothes the digestive tract and prevents the formation of loose stools.
The active ingredient in peppermint is menthol, it has an antispasmodic effect on the intestines and it is able to block calcium channels within the smooth muscles of the intestine. This help to stop cramping, pains, frequent elimination of watery stools, and other symptoms of diarrhea.
Blueberries contain Anthocyanins and these compounds have antioxidant and antibacterial properties; this help heals diarrhea and relieves the symptoms.
They work on your stomach and they kill whatever parasite that might be causing diarrhea. Blueberries also contain pectin, this help to ease the symptoms of diarrhea and harden stools.
Take blueberry tea daily, you can make yours at home by crushing some berries and boil them in a cup of water on a low heat for at most 10 minutes. Allow it to cool down before taking it. You can chew a good quantity of blueberries, you can make blueberry soup, or any way you know you can take blueberries.
Honey is an effective remedy for diarrhea, many cultures swear by it. Mix some tablespoons of raw honey inside a cup of hot water, allow it to cool and then you drink it. It is sweet and effective. click here to learn how to purchase real and pure honey.
Bromelain is an enzyme present in pineapple, it treats diarrhea caused by microbes and infections. it is also rich in vitamin C and this vital nutrient helps in strengthening the immune system. Eat a lot of pineapples when down with diarrhea.
Bananas act in the same way as orange peels; they are rich in pectin, they help your intestine absorb liquids thereby making your stools less watery. They are also rich in potassium, this helps replace lost electrolyte lost through diarrhea. Eat a lot of bananas when you are having diarrhea.
Another way to take bananas during diarrhea is to mash them and add a little pinch of table salt and a teaspoon of tamarind juice to it. Mix well and eat this mixture. Do this two times daily.
When to See a Doctor?
When you notice any of the following symptoms, please do not hesitate to see a doctor immediately:
- Bloody or red or black tarry stools
- A high body temperature that lasts for more than 24 hours
- If diarrhea lasts for more than two days
- Diarrhea that occurs when you travel to a new country or when you come back from a journey
- Nausea and vomiting that prevents you from drinking water and any other liquid; this can lead to severe dehydration when you are unable to replace the lost fluids.
- Frequent vomiting
- Severe abdominal pain or pain in the rectum
- Passing of urine that is dark in color
- Confusion and irritability
- Passing more than six loose stools in a day
- Decreases elasticity of the skin
- Loss of appetite
- No release of tears when crying
- Passing little quantity of urine
- Dry skin, dry lips, and headaches and other signs of dehydration
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fatigue and fainting
- Stools contain pus or blood
How to Prevent Diarrhea?
Good personal hygiene is one of the best ways o prevent diarrhea; this will reduce your risk of coming in contact with harmful bacteria, viruses and other germs and parasites that can cause diarrhea.
Drink only clean water or water that you are sure of the source. Boil tap water before use. Wash fruits and vegetables properly before use and cook your food properly and in a hygienic way and served hot to avoid food poisoning.
Don’t eat fruits or raw vegetables that are not washed, and always peel the skins of fruits that are not well-washed before eating. Another way to prevent diarrhea is to go on an elimination diet. This helps you know the foods that trigger diarrhea and help you avoid them.