Diarrhea involves loose or watery stools that may be associated with frequent bowel movements. This may be accompanied by bloating, abdominal pain, or cramps and at times nausea. Diarrhea is a common condition and usually goes away without intervention.
Diarrhea can happen because of many reasons:
- Viral infection (called intestinal flu or stomach flu)
- Infection by bacteria and other organisms. The germs may cause pre-formed toxins in food.
- Allergies to certain foods (gluten and lactose intolerance)
- Spicy or fatty foods
- Disorders of poor food absorption (malabsorption syndrome)
- Certain medications including some antibiotics
- Radiation therapy
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (a disorder that affects the large bowel causing spells of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation)
- Bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Alcohol abuse
- Laxative overuse
- Certain cancers
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
Which foods make diarrhea go away faster?
Certain foods, particularly the bland ones, may help get rid of diarrhea faster. They also make up for the nutrient loss during diarrhea, aiding faster recovery. These foods are as follows:
- White rice
- Foods containing probiotics (the good bacteria that keep the gut healthy) such as yogurt, curd, kefir, and drinks containing fermented milk
- Boiled or baked potatoes (peeled)
- Baked chicken or turkey (skin removed)
- Liquids containing salt and sugar such as over the counter oral rehydration solution
- White rice porridge
- Unseasoned crackers
- White bread
Along with consuming the aforementioned foods, one must avoid foods that may make diarrhea worse. These include the following:
- Spicy foods
- Fried or fatty food such as chips, pastries, and bacon
- Caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee
- Raw vegetables such as cabbage
- Raw fruits and juices
- Foods containing the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Why won’t my diarrhea go away?
Diarrhea is usually self-limiting and goes away in one to three days. If despite proper diet your diarrhea does not go away, it may be due to certain conditions:
- Infection: Diarrhea due to certain bacteria or parasite infections usually does not go away without treatment. Even after the infection is cured, some people may have problems digesting certain foods such as milk and milk products and soy. This problem with digesting food may cause prolonged diarrhea. Lactose intolerance is a common condition after the infection. Post infectious lactose intolerance is due to gut damage due to the toxins of bacteria. In this condition, the affected person cannot digest lactose. Lactose is a carbohydrate seen in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and curd. It is commonly reported as repeated episodes of abdominal cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. Fructose intolerance is another similar condition in which the affected individual gets diarrhea due to eating foods containing fructose (a type of sugar) such as honey, fruits, fruit juices, and soft drinks. Certain sugar-free candies and gums contain sugar alcohols (such as sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol) as sweeteners, and they can cause diarrhea in some people.
- Celiac disease: It is a long-term condition, which results from an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Over time, the immune reaction damages the inner lining of the bowel leading to repeated episodes bloating and diarrhea.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): This includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which cause long-term inflammation of the bowel.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): It is a long-term disorder that affects the large bowel. It causes symptoms such as cramps, abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation or both.
- Abdominal surgery: Surgery on the appendix, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, bowel, stomach, or spleen may cause long-term diarrhea.
- Long-term use of medications: Certain medications such as antibiotics can change the normal gut flora (the good bacteria). This decline in the good bacteria can increase the chances of infection with bacteria that can cause long-term or chronic diarrhea.
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