Watery stools, stomach cramps, nausea and sore legs from running to the bathroom multiple times a day.
Stop your frequent visits to the toilet by following these five tips.
Diarrhoea is a common gut and bowel health condition caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, certain antibiotics, contaminated water and food poisoning. It affects infants to full-grown adults from every race and geographical location, though it has been observed that Australia is one of the countries with a prevailing presence of diarrhoea.
Fortunately, there are several proven methods for you to minimise your discomfort during an episode of diarrhoea. Follow these five effective ways to stop your diarrhoea, shorten its course or at the very least, experience relief from your symptoms.
1. Follow the BRAT diet.
The BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) diet is considered as one of the most effective treatments for diarrhoea. For decades now, the BRAT diet has been the go-to diet of individuals who are suffering from diarrhoea. It is safe for kids and adults alike.
Aside from replenishing your body’s supply of electrolytes thanks to its rich potassium content, bananas also help improve the passage of your stools owing to its high level of soluble fibre called pectin. This is why bananas are often recommended for individuals who are suffering from diarrhoea.
Plain white rice is the best type of rice to consume during your diarrhoea episode because of its starchy quality, which can help your stools become more solid. Other types of rice (e.g., brown rice and red rice) have high-fibre content, which can exacerbate your diarrhoea symptoms.
When choosing your applesauce, make sure you get those with no added sugar or flavouring agents as sweet foods can result in a more upset stomach. Making your own applesauce is a healthy and budget-friendly option you might want to consider too.
When preparing your toast, remember to keep it as plain and dry as possible. Skip the butter, jam, margarine, peanut butter or any other spread you have as these products tend to be oily, and may make your diarrhoea symptoms worse.
2. Take Probiotics.
Probiotics are live, “good” or “friendly” bacteria that play a vital role in keeping your gut flora balanced and healthy. Present in aged soft cheese and cottage cheese, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and many fermented foods including yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, and miso, probiotics have been found effective by researchers in providing symptomatic relief for certain types of diarrhoea, as well as shortening its course.
There are also probiotic drinks available in the market that may help ease you of your symptoms. For best results, we recommend that you seek the advice of your trusted healthcare provider first before you take any probiotic drinks.
3. Eat Bland, Starchy and Low-Fibre Foods.
Aside from white rice and dry toast, other types of bland, starchy and low-fibre foods that you may want to consider incorporating into your diet include baked or boiled potatoes (make sure you peel the skins off first), baked chicken (make sure the skin has been removed too), crackers with no flavouring or seasoning, cooked carrots, oatmeal, and rice porridge.
These types of food are recommended for individuals suffering from diarrhoea because they help replenish the nutrients that your body has lost while making your stools less watery.
4. Hydrate With the Good Stuff.
Diarrhoea poses a serious risk for dehydration due to your frequent passage of watery stools. Rehydration therapy – the treatment for replacing your lost electrolytes and fluids – is recommended to ensure your body can continue to perform its functions well.
Adult human bodies are made up of 60% water, making water one of the best hydration drinks for adults who may or may not be suffering from diarrhoea. However, water doesn’t contain electrolytes, which are important minerals found in other liquids such as chicken broth, clear soup, apple juice and sports drinks (e.g., Gatorade). Sipping and drinking these liquids all throughout your bout of diarrhoea can help maintain a good amount of electrolytes in your body, which helps ensure that the different organs of your body are functioning as they should.
5. Avoid Flavourful Foods and Drinks.
Eating bland, starchy and low-fibre foods and drinking plenty of water and electrolyte-rich drinks are just one half of the equation to successfully stop your diarrhoea. The other half requires you to steer clear of savoury foods and caffeinated drinks because they can worsen your symptoms.
Foods that are fatty (e.g., fatty cuts of pork chop), greasy (e.g., French fries), artificially sweetened (e.g., candies and sugary snacks) and spicy (e.g., curry) should be avoided while you have diarrhoea. Dairy products and high-fibre foods can also make your diarrhoea worse, so it is best to avoid them until your stools return to their firmer, normal condition.
While your body is fighting off the toxin that triggered your diarrhoea symptoms, we recommend that you avoid all alcoholic beverages, coffee, caffeinated and diet soft drinks.
Avoid drinking cloudy and thick fruit and vegetable juices including citrus, pineapple and tomato juices because it can further aggravate the inflammation of your intestines.
Lastly, make sure that the beverages you drink are slightly warm or at room temperature only. Consuming drinks at extremely hot or cold temperatures may lead to your nausea.
Read more: What Foods Cause Diarrhoea?
The End of Diarrhoea
Keep in mind that mild, acute diarrhoea (as opposed to severe, chronic diarrhoea which may be a sign of a more serious health condition) lasts for two to three days only. By the third day, your body should have been able to flush out the toxins that triggered your frequent visits to the toilet, watery stools, nausea and stomach cramps.
Following these five tips will minimise your discomfort while you are waiting for your diarrhoea to completely run its course. Practising good hygiene such as washing your hands before and after eating, and after using the toilet, as well as ensuring your water and food are prepared and cooked properly, can also aid in reducing the spread of diarrhoea-causing bacteria in your home.
However, if you observe that your diarrhoea has been going on for more than three days, that you have black, bloody or greasy stools, or that your stomach pain is not improving even with your frequent bowel movements, immediately go to your healthcare provider for an assessment. These are possible signs of potentially more severe diseases and warrants immediate medical attention.
Read more: When to See a Doctor about Diarrhoea
Need Our Help?
Book an appointment with an accredited dietitian or nutritionist by phone on (07) 3071-7405 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday or send us an enquiry. You may also read up on how we help our clients improve their gut and bowel health.