Diarrhea: what helps against diarrhea?

Diarrhea: what helps against diarrhea?

Usually, diarrhoea is not dangerous, and medical treatment is not necessary. The symptoms typically go away on their own after a short time. However, if you want to get rid of your diarrhoea quickly, you can support your body. Home remedies or an adjustment in diet often help with diarrhoea. However, serious problems can also arise, such as when the loss of fluid and electrolytes is not adequately compensated. What to do? Read here which remedies and medication help against diarrhoea and when medical assistance is required.

Diarrhoea: why treatment makes sense

Depending on the cause, diarrhoea often goes away after a short time. Supportive treatment can still be helpful. Treatment of diarrhoea has several goals:

  • The fluid and electrolyte loss must be compensated.
  • The cause of diarrhoea should be eliminated.
  • The damaged intestinal flora can be supported in its development

Supply fluid and electrolytes

The biggest problem with diarrhoea is the increased loss of water and electrolytes, i.e. salts. So drink a lot, preferably two to three litres a day. These drinks should provide electrolytes in the form of potassium, salt, and some sugar.

Examples of suitable drinks are:

  • Still or slightly carbonated mineral water
  • Teas with a bit of sugar (e.g. peppermint, fennel or chamomile) – the tannins in black tea also soothe the inflamed intestinal mucosa.
  • Vegetable juice like carrot juice
  • a thin broth, for example, chicken broth

Although cola is considered an old household remedy, it is not recommended for diarrhoea because it contains too much carbonic acid, caffeine and sugar. This can even increase the loss of water and potassium. Cola is particularly unsuitable for children with diarrhoea.

In pharmacies or drugstores, unique electrolyte solutions or electrolytes are also in tablet form. You can also mix a drink containing electrolytes yourself from eight level teaspoons of (grape) sugar and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt to half a litre of water and half a litre of orange juice.

If you feel hungry, nibble on pretzel sticks or other savoury snacks, although they provide sodium but no potassium. Slime soups also provide liquid, are easy to digest and do not put additional strain on the intestinal mucosa. To do this, boil oatmeal, rice or semolina with a bit of water and then dilute the mixture until it has a soup consistency. Bananas provide potassium and are, therefore, also suitable for replacing lost electrolytes.

medication for diarrhoea

Severe diarrhoea can sometimes be treated with medication. Since the treatment depends on the cause, clarifying the appropriate therapy with a doctor before taking tablets against diarrhoea on your own is advisable.

There are several medications available to treat diarrhoea:

  • The active ingredient loperamide inhibits intestinal muscle activity and thus stops diarrhoea immediately. However, this also inhibits the excretion of toxins or pathogens the body is trying to eliminate with diarrhoea. Therefore, you should take this remedy for up to two days. If there is no improvement, please seek medical advice.
  • The active ingredient racecadotril can reduce the loss of fluid and electrolytes. The bowel movement is not affected by the drug. The drug can also be used on babies and young children if prescribed by a doctor.
  • Other medications, such as Perenterol®, contain medicinal yeast, which inhibits the growth of harmful germs in the intestine and helps to rebuild the natural intestinal flora.
  • Agents from the group of adsorbents have a physical effect: They bind dissolved substances like poisons and thus fight the cause of diarrhoea. These active ingredients include activated charcoal, kaolin, and silicon dioxide.
  • Other preparations contain tannins. This seals and soothes the inflamed intestinal mucosa. Tannins are also found in black tea and many plants.
  • Butylscopolamine can help with abdominal cramps (for example, in Buscopan®). However, it would help if you did not take this active ingredient for longer than a few days without a doctor’s order.
  • Antibiotics should only be used if bacterial pathogens cause diarrhoea, and these are known. This is the only way to protect the already attacked intestinal flora. In most cases, antibiotics are not necessary.
  • Probiotics can be used as powder or capsules and in drinks,  yoghurt, or probiotic foods. Above all, they have a preventive effect (e.g. when taking antibiotics) but can also shorten the duration of acute diarrhoea.

home remedies for diarrhoea

Popular home remedies for diarrhoea are medicinal yeast and activated charcoal.

Medicinal yeast (Saccharomyces boulardii) is a probiotic that supports natural intestinal flora. The remedy can help significantly with diarrhoea as a result of an infection. In addition, the yeast can even help to prevent diarrhoea as a preventive measure against travellers’ diarrhoea or when taking antibiotics. It should be noted that it must be medicinal yeast (brewer’s yeast) – commercial yeast from the kitchen does not help against diarrhoea. Medicinal yeast is usually offered in capsule form. It is unsuitable for people with an immune deficiency or other severe illnesses as it can lead to fungal infections.

Activated charcoal is also a popular home remedy for diarrhoea and flatulence. Charcoal tablets bind the pathogens causing the symptoms so that they are rendered harmless and transported out of the body – so you should expect black stools after ingestion. Due to their mode of action, they are also used in some cases of poisoning. It should be noted that activated carbon can also bind positive substances such as nutrients, which is why it should only be taken for a short time. It is available in the drugstore or pharmacy in the form of capsules, tablets or powder and should always be taken with plenty of water.

Both home remedies are not suitable for diarrhoea with fever or bloody diarrhoea. Then, a different treatment must occur, and these remedies must not be used.

Diarrhoea: Relief with herbal remedies

The Ozark root comes from Africa and is said to inhibit intestinal movements and soothe intestinal mucosa. Other herbal remedies include tormentil, oak bark, or dried blueberries. They inhibit secretion (release of salts and water in the body), contain tannins and have an astringent effect.

Flea seeds and pectins from raw apples (it is best to grate the apple finely) contain bulking agents that bind toxins and liquid. You can get preparations with these active ingredients in pharmacies, for example.

When to see a doctor about diarrhoea

A doctor’s visit is essential in the following cases:

  • If the diarrhea is severe or lasts longer than 48 hours
  • If you have blood, mucus or pus in your stools
  • If you have symptoms other than diarrhoea, such as high fever, joint pain or a general feeling of illness
  • If signs of incipient dehydration (exsiccosis) occur, you have a dry mouth, and little or dark urine appears. If you feel light-headed, dizzy or blackout, your circulation is affected – a sign that your body lacks water and needs to rehydrate urgently.
  • if you have just made a long-distance trip
  • if older people or people with a weakened immune system are affected
  • if children have diarrhoea – as a rule, if babies have diarrhoea more than four times, toddlers more than six times and school children more than 8 to 10 times within 24 hours, medical advice is required
  • If you cannot compensate for the loss of liquid by drinking, for example, because of excessive nausea

To select the appropriate treatment, the doctor will try to determine the cause of diarrhoea. If underlying diseases trigger diarrhoea, their treatment is in the foreground.


Diarrhoea: better to prevent than to treat

Many troublesome diarrheal diseases can be easily avoided. The “cook it, peel it or leave it” rule (cook food, peel it or don’t eat it) is the best way to combat traveller’s diarrhoea. When travelling to warm countries, in particular, pay attention to where your drinking water comes from. Drink boiled or bottled water in the original packaging (also used for brushing your teeth). Other sources of danger can be ice cubes, raw or half-cooked foods (especially seafood, fish, eggs, meat and poultry) and sauces or salads.

Suppose diarrhoea with vomiting is “raging” in your family. In that case, you may avoid infection by observing strict hygiene measures, such as washing your hands with an antiseptic that is effective against viruses. Washing your hands thoroughly before and after eating and preparing food is always particularly important.

Ensure you eat a balanced, high-fibre diet so your intestinal flora is always in top form. Infection with the rotavirus can be prevented by vaccination, which is particularly recommended for babies. In the case of food intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome, the proper diet also plays a decisive role in preventing diarrhoea since incompatible foods trigger the symptoms.


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