- Chronic diarrhea is defined as loose or watery stools that occur three or more times within 24 hours and last more than four weeks.
- It rarely involves additional disease symptoms, including bleeding, anemia, weight loss, or exhaustion, and is usually painless.
- It can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious condition.
Visit a doctor even if you have a few regular bowel movements so you can prevent consequences such as dehydration and malnutrition.
What is the treatment of chronic diarrhea?
Your doctor may suggest various treatment plans for chronic diarrhea depending on the underlying cause.
- Antibiotics: Your doctor may advise taking an antibiotic or other medication to treat the parasite or infection that causes your diarrhea.
- Medication for a particular disease: Diarrhea can be a symptom of several medical conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, microscopic colitis, or bacterial overgrowth. Usually, diarrhea can be controlled if the cause has been found.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are composed of collections of beneficial bacteria and are occasionally used to treat diarrhea by re-establishing a healthy biome. In some circumstances, adding probiotics can be beneficial, and some medical professionals believe that giving it a shot is worthwhile. Before you begin to use a probiotic or any other form of supplement, always see your doctor.
- Oral rehydration therapy: Most likely, your doctor will advise you to replenish the salts and fluids. For most adults, this involves consuming juice, broth, or water with electrolytes. If drinking liquids upsets your stomach or causes you to vomit, your doctor may recommend intravenous fluids. Water is a fantastic way to replenish lost fluids, but it is devoid of salts and electrolytes, which are minerals such as sodium and potassium, that your body needs to function. By consuming soups for salt or fruit drinks for potassium, you can assist manage your electrolyte levels. However, some fruit liquids, such as apple juice, may aggravate diarrhea. To avoid dehydration or to replenish lost fluids in children, talk to your doctor about using an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte.
- Antidiarrheal medicine: Loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate are two over-the-counter antidiarrheal drugs that may help reduce the frequency of watery stools and treat severe symptoms. These drugs can worsen some conditions and diseases because they stop the body from eliminating the source of diarrhea, including parasitic and bacterial infections. Children should not use some of these drugs. Before using these medications on yourself or a child, see your doctor.
- Pain management: Alternative therapies such as acupuncture or stress reduction techniques may be used in addition to prescription drugs during your treatment. If your stomach pains are so severe that you can't sit still, move or find a comfortable position that doesn't cause additional pain, you should call your doctor immediately.
- Total parenteral nutrition (TPN): TPN is the practice of receiving all your nutrients through a catheter (a slender tube that is inserted into a vein). TPN may help you if your intestines need some time to heal or if your stomach can no longer absorb nutrients from food eaten orally.
What dietary practices can help you manage chronic diarrhea?
If you have chronic diarrhea, you've most likely heard of the BRAT diet, which stands for banana, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods cause the intestines to move more slowly and reduce the frequency of loose stools. Because it is not very nourishing, the BRAT diet should not be followed for an extended period.
Keep a food journal to check if your diet contributes to your chronic diarrhea. Keep track of all your snacks and meals and of any symptoms that worsen. You may be capable of recognizing potential trigger foods after a few weeks.
Foods that may aggravate or cause diarrhea in sensitive people
- Milk and dairy products
- Vegetables from the cabbage family and legumes (such as chickpeas, beans, peas, lentils, and lupins) are high in fiber
- Fruits and beverages with fructose
- Liquids with caffeine, such as coffee and tea
- Alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine, and spirits
- Bacon and another fatty, highly marbled meats; fried foods, baked goods, and chips are examples of high-fat foods
- Artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and aspartame
- Sugar-free gums and mints that include sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol
- Authentic black licorice (not candy)
- Substantial amounts of nuts or nut butter
- Candy concentrates such as dried fruits (prunes, figs, dates, raisins, and Prune juice)
Foods and drinks that could reduce diarrhea
- Drink more liquids to avoid being dehydrated. Try to consume these liquids in between meals. Drinking liquids with a meal may hasten stomach emptying and worsen diarrhea.
- Consume and/or ingest meals and drinks high in potassium and sodium. Because diarrhea can result in low salt and potassium levels, it's crucial to replenish these electrolytes through your meals.
- Consume low-fiber foods such as:
- Yogurt (avoid if you are lactose-intolerant)
- Sliced bread
- Whipped wheat
- Lean meat
- Drink liquids at normal temperature and not those that are overly hot or cold
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