To cope with diarrhea, try to:
June 11, 2013
- Drink plenty of fluids. Water is best, but fluids with added sodium and potassium (electrolytes) may be beneficial as well. Try drinking broth or watered down fruit juice. Avoid beverages that are high in sugar or contain alcohol or caffeine, such as coffee, tea and colas, which may aggravate your symptoms.
- Choose soft, easy-to-digest foods. These include applesauce, bananas and rice. Avoid high-fiber foods such as beans, nuts and vegetables. If you feel like your symptoms are improving, slowly add high-fiber foods back to your diet.
Take probiotics. Probiotics are organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, that can help restore a healthy balance to the intestinal tract by boosting the level of good bacteria to help defeat the harmful bacteria. Probiotics are available in capsule or liquid form and are also added to some foods, such as certain brands of yogurt.
Studies confirm that some probiotics, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Saccharomyces boulardii, used in conjunction with antibiotics may be helpful as a treatment for antibiotic-associated diarrhea. However, further research is needed to better understand which strains of bacteria are most helpful or what doses are needed.
- Try eating several small meals, rather than a few large meals. Space meals throughout the day instead of eating two or three large ones.
- Avoid irritating foods. Stay away from spicy, fatty or fried foods and any other foods that make your symptoms worse.
- Ask about anti-diarrheal medications. In some cases of mild antibiotic-associated diarrhea, your doctor may recommend anti-diarrhea medications, such as loperamide (Imodium A-D). But check with your doctor first before taking anti-diarrheal medications because they can interfere with your body's ability to eliminate toxins and lead to serious complications.
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- Surawicz CM, et al. Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Clostridium difficile infections. The American Journal of Gastroenterology. In press. Accessed March 25, 2013.
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- Hempel S, et al. Probiotics for the Prevention and Treatment of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012;307:1959.
- Rohren CH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 8, 2013.