What is Diarrhea?
Diarrhea refers to a waterborne disease in which the stools become loose and watery. It’s a very common disease and one which isn’t usually serious. A lot of people suffer from it very often, and it is one of the most uncomfortable conditions to be in. Symptoms of diarrhea include bloating of the stomach, stomach cramps, thin or very loose stools, watery stools, an urgent need to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling of nausea or vomiting. More severe cases of diarrhea could have serious symptoms such as blood or mucus in the stool, abnormal weight loss, or fever accompanied by high temperatures.
What are the causes of diarrhea?
There are several causes of diarrhea. It is normally caused by a virus which affects your gut. It is hence also called intestinal flu or stomach flu. Diarrhea could also be caused by bacteria and parasites. Often, pathogens responsible for this disease are transmitted to the human body via the intake of unhygienic foods or water. Other causes include allergies, excessive alcohol intake, diabetes, disease of the intestine, medications, laxative abuse, eating foods that upset the digestive system, and some other causes. No matter what the cause, a patient suffering from diarrhea usually faces a lot of embarrassment and daily challenges especially when they are outside. However, one must learn to live with this illness when it occurs, as it does not get better overnight.
The following steps can be followed to cope with the situation while you are affected with diarrhea.
1. Consult a good doctor and carefully follow prescribed treatment plan.
If your diarrhea persists for longer than 3 days, then it is wise to consult a doctor. He/she will diagnose the root cause of your illness by asking about your symptoms, as well as examining and understanding your medical history. This will help him provide you with a proper treatment plan. The plan could include a list of medicines, prescribed intake of lots of fluids, recommendations to change lifestyle habits, and prohibition of alcohol intake etc. While it may be tough for an individual to cope with the treatment for a while, it will be an effective method to deal with the illness. The best way to remember all the important information in the treatment plan is to note down the key points and to make a schedule of your food chart and new habits. You must review the information every day to minimize mistakes when following the treatment plan.
2. Have a healthy and balanced diet.
Eating the appropriate foods can help the digestive system more than anything else. If doctors prescribe certain foods or recommend you to avoid certain ones, then following that advice will be helpful to get rid of your diarrhea. You also need to be conscious about the amount of food and the frequency of the food intake throughout the day.
Foods that are high on fiber should be added to your diet as it is the best way to avoid digestive problems. Intake of fiber-rich foods increases the weight of the stool, thereby properly regulating food digestion. Fiber-rich foods go a long way in preventing diarrhea.
3. Drink sufficient amount of liquid to stay hydrated.
One of the best ways to deal with diarrhea is to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Water is a must to ensure proper bowel functioning. It keeps the stools soft and well-shaped, while also helping you with constipation. However, not all fluids are good for the stomach. Carbonated beverages, soda, or caffeine do not help one’s digestive system, in fact they could make diarrhea worse.
One must ensure that he/she has a proper intake of fluids but needs also to be careful on the kinds of fluids taken. Dehydration occurs every time a person suffers from diarrhea, and that is why it is important to constantly drink plenty of fluids, like water, to remain hydrated and recover faster. Apart from water, oral rehydration solutions, glucose or fruit juices, honey water or sports drinks, could work well if you have diarrhea or during hot weather or after physical exercise.
4. Avoid mental stress to calm the digestive system.
It might sound like a strange cause for diarrhea but over-thinking, or having mental stress of any kind, creates a bad effect on one’s digestive system. Stress triggers your gut to react. In such situations, physical exercise, yoga, meditation, or pursuing a hobby that requires labor can lessen the stress levels and help with the diarrhea or stomach upset.
Being able to keep calm in a difficult situation and going with the flow can work wonders in managing stress. For example, if someone feels uncomfortable attending a yoga class due to diarrhea, then he/she can instead choose to stay indoors and workout with the help of a DVD.
Some stresses cannot be avoided especially for people with high blood pressure. In that case, he/she should consult a psychologist or a close friend to help with the stress, which, in turn, will help with their digestive problems.
5. Take anti-diarrheal medication.
An over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication, such as Imodium or Loperamide, can be of great help in treating diarrhea. If you're nervous or stressed, then taking a dose of medication that helps ease the stress can provide stomach relief, and thus help with the diarrhea. These medications reduce the chance of suffering due to diarrhea and help keep the digestive system healthy and on track.
The Bottom Line
Living with diarrhea can be difficult and uncomfortable, but one can work towards improving their physical and mental health if they follow the methods or treatments mentioned above.
Drinking plenty of fluids and having several small meals at regular intervals can be the best way to maintain a healthy stomach. This helps in the proper digestion of food, allowing your stomach to recover faster from diarrhea. In order to live and maintain a healthy life, it is crucial to seek medical advice from a professional.