8 Ways to Deal With Diarrhea

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • sign for public restroom
    Find Relief Fast
    When you’re dealing with a bout of diarrhea, you just want it to end. Fortunately, you can take simple steps to relieve this bothersome problem. Find out what you can do—and when to call your doctor.
  • Woman with upset stomach
    1. Take Medicine
    There are two leading over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications. Loperamide, sold under the brand name Imodium, slows the rate at which fluids move through your intestines, while bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol) reduces inflammation and fights bugs. Ask your doctor before taking them if you take prescription drugs or have an aspirin allergy.
  • Woman drinking water
    2. Drink Fluids
    Dehydration, which occurs when you have low levels of fluids and electrolytes, is a common complication of diarrhea. Signs include thirst, dark-colored urine, dizziness, and fatigue. To combat dehydration, drink water along with beverages that contain sodium and other electrolytes. These include sports drinks, broths, caffeine-free sodas, and juices.
  • Taking temperature
    3. Call Your Doctor
    Loose, watery stools that last more than two days can signal a serious health problem. See a health care provider. Also seek medical attention if you have severe abdominal pain, a fever of 102 degrees or higher, or stools that are black, tarry, or contain blood or pus.
  • Doctor checkup
    4. Find the Cause
    Your doctor can help you pinpoint the cause of your distress, which can give you clues for relieving it. For instance, diarrhea can be linked to bacteria or viruses, antibiotics or other medications, intestinal diseases, or food sensitivities. Treating the underlying condition may ease your troubled stomach.
  • Banana
    5. Adjust Your Diet
    Some foods are more likely to aggravate your intestines. Avoiding them can reduce your symptoms. These include dairy, high-fiber fruits and vegetables, gum, candy, and greasy or spicy dishes. Instead, stick to bland foods, such as rice, bananas, apple sauce toast, cooked carrots, and skinless baked chicken.
  • Woman eating yogurt
    6. Try Yogurt
    Lactose, the sugar in milk, may make some cases of diarrhea worse. But yogurt, which has less lactose than milk, is easier to digest. In fact, the live cultures in selected brands of yogurt products—called probiotics—may help you feel better. Probiotics are also available as capsules, tablets, and powders.
  • Chamomile
    7. Consider Chamomile
    Research isn’t conclusive, but this herb has been used to ease diarrhea for thousands of years. You can drink it in tea, or swallow liquid extracts, capsules, or tablets. Use caution if you have ragweed allergies. Chamomile is in the same family and may provoke a potentially dangerous reaction.
  • Woman relaxing
    8. Make Yourself Comfortable
    Ease the external irritation of diarrhea by washing with a mild soap after each bowel movement. Consider applying an ointment, such as A&D ointment or petroleum jelly, to the area. Sitting in a tub of warm water or a sitz bath may also soothe your skin.
8 Ways to Deal With Diarrhea
  1. Diarrhea. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diarrhea/
  2. What I need to know about Diarrhea. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diarrhea_ez/)
  3.  Antidiarrheal Medicines: OTC Relief for Diarrhea. American Academy of Family Physicians. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/drugs-procedures-devices/over-the-counter/antidiarrheal-medi...
  4.  Chamomile. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/chamomile/ataglance.htm
  5. Oral Probiotics: An Introduction. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
  6. Diarrhea. American Cancer Society. (http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/dealingwithsymptomsatho...
  7. Diarrhea - what to ask your doctor – adult. U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000218.htm
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 7
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.