What to do if you have diarrhea Almost everyone knows diarrhea from their own illness. Here you can learn more about the symptoms and causes of diarrhea and what you can do about it with home remedies and medication.
Diarrhea can be extremely uncomfortable, as it often hardly announces itself. First a grumble in the belly and maybe a violent abdominal pain – and then the next toilet must not be too far for the bowel movements. Infections , poisoning or allergies are the most common cause of diarrhea. But psychological factors also often play a role, such as stress , nervousness or excitement.
Doctors speak of diarrhea or diarrhea when bowel movements are watery or mushy more than three times a day. This leads to a loss of fluid and mineral salt in the body. This loss of fluids and electrolytes can quickly become a threat, particularly in infants and young children. Due to the loss of fluid, the blood is thickened and a circulatory breakdown can occur.
Almost all people know diarrhea from their own experience. Diarrhea is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and intestinal cramps.
Like vomiting, diarrhea is a protective function of the body. With the diarrhea, the organism can quickly get rid of harmful germs or substances. Common causes of diarrhea are gastric and intestinal infections caused by viruses or bacteria. Vomiting, fever, body aches or complaints such as those with a cold are common.
The most common pathogens are:
- Coli bacteria: “Summer diarrhea” (due to faecal bacteria in dirty food or drinking water)
- Viruses, often rotaviruses or noroviruses (intestinal flu)
- Salmonella (from food poisoning with eggs, poultry or through infection in sick people)
- Pathogens of typhoid , paratyphoid, cholera or dysentery (serious infections that do not occur with us, but are often brought along from trips to non-European countries).
- Toxins (food poisoning)
- Food intolerance ( lactose intolerance ) or food allergy (e.g. nuts, protein, wheat or milk)
- excessive consumption of dietary sugar (sorbitol, mannitol)
- excessive laxative intake
- Anxiety, stress, nervousness
- Irritable bowel, also called nervous bowel. Here, diarrhea and various other complaints such as flatulence and a feeling of fullness, constipation or abdominal cramps often occur alternately, without a specific cause being known.
- alcohol abuse
- Medications such as antibiotics can cause diarrhea
- Inflammation of the intestines (often Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis )
- Utilization disorders (maldigestion, malabsorption), for example with disorders of the pancreas or bile duct obstruction.
A simple diarrhea usually goes away on its own and does not require special therapy. Sometimes it is enough to be careful about what you can eat if you have diarrhea. In general, diarrhea should not be stopped immediately, otherwise the triggering germs and pollutants cannot be excreted.
In certain cases, however, it is important to see a doctor, namely if
- the diarrhea is very severe or persists.
- There is blood in the stool.
- other complaints such as fever, fatigue, night sweats and / or pain are added.
- the diarrhea occurs after a long-distance trip.
- Infants or young children are affected.
The doctor can find out the cause of the diarrhea and initiate special therapy, for example with antibacterial diarrhea or diarrhea stopper.
Doctors warn against rash antibiotics. According to the Center for Travel Medicine (CRM), antibiotics significantly increase the risk of multi-resistant germs settling in the gut.
Home remedies for diarrhea
It is particularly important to compensate for the loss of fluids and electrolytes. There are also special electrolyte preparations as tablets or liquids in bags that contain glucose, sodium, potassium and chloride.
But you don’t necessarily need medication from the pharmacy, even home remedies do their job. You can make yourself a mixture of 1/2 liter of water, 5 teaspoons of glucose and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, or you can use fruit juices or cola and pretzel sticks.
In total, you should drink at least 2.5 liters of fluid per day if you have diarrhea. Black tea is also good for diarrhea because it has a slightly filling and calming effect.
Other home remedies for diarrhea
- If you have severe diarrhea, it is best not to eat anything at the beginning. From the 2nd or 3rd day you can start with light food (rusks, slime soup etc.). With mild diarrhea, you can eat whatever you feel like. However, it is wise to avoid flatulent or citrus-containing foods and drinks. There is a special medicinal food for infants that is suitable for diarrhea.
- Medical juices with apple pectin bind harmful substances or germs. Grated apple serves the same purpose.
- Tablets with tannins (e.g. tannin protein) seal the surface of the intestinal mucosa and have an antibacterial effect. In principle, black tea has a similar effect.
Over-the-counter medicines for diarrhea
In the case of severe diarrhea, over-the-counter drugs from the pharmacy can stop the diarrhea. Such active ingredients should only be taken for a short time, i.e. not longer than two days, since constipation can easily occur.
Herbal preparations also relieve diarrhea or cramp symptoms, e.g. B. tablets or drops with Uzara root extract. Anti-spasmodic medication in tablet form (e.g. butylscopolamine) helps against intestinal cramps.
Many people use yeast fungi such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. Boulardii and Saccharomyces cerevisiae Hansen CBS 5926 to strengthen the intestinal flora. Another name is Saccharomyces boulardii.
You can reduce the risk of diarrhea yourself. The following tips are suitable for this:
- Especially when traveling to hot countries, you should only eat cooked or peeled food, no open ice cream or salad. Boil the drinking water or use mineral water. This also applies to brushing your teeth. Warning: No ice cubes in drinks! The motto for long-distance trips is: cook it, wash it, peel it or forget it!
- Avoid eating raw or soft-boiled eggs (especially in summer) and undercooked poultry, unwashed fruit and salads.
- Some intestinal diseases such as Salmonella infection are highly contagious. Special hygiene measures are necessary when contacting the sick or in the event of illness in the personal environment. Your doctor or pharmacist will advise you on this.
- Yeast inhibits the growth of harmful germs and is used to regenerate the intestinal flora after a diarrhea or after taking drugs that attack the intestinal flora (e.g. after antibiotic therapy). A reorganization of the intestinal flora goes hand in hand with an activation of the body’s defenses. In a healthy intestinal environment, penetrating, pathogenic germs are prevented from multiplying.
- Preparations containing certain bacterial strains (such as lactic acid bacteria or Escherichia coli) can also be used to regenerate the intestinal flora and to activate the body’s own defenses.