Dealing with diarrhoea
Diarrhoea is defined as the frequent passing of loose watery stools (faeces). Symptoms that may also occur include: cramps and pains in the stomach, nausea, fever, vomiting and thirst. Diarrhoea can be life threatening for babies and young children.
Diarrhoea can be acute or chronic. Acute diarrhoea usually resolves after 1 or 2 days. Chronic diarrhoea, lasting 4 weeks or more is usually a sign of another condition that affects the intestines, commonly inflammatory bowel disease.
There are many possible causes of diarrhoea, including:
- food poisoning;
- bacterial, viral or parasitic infection;
- inflammatory bowel disease;
- food allergy or intolerance;
- alcohol and other drugs (pharmaceutical and recreational);
- high intake of artificial sweeteners (eg. Aspartame);
- lactose intolerance; and
- cancer, particularly bowel cancer.
Diet and Lifestyle
Increase consumption of:
- liquids – water with electrolytes, green drinks and broths;
- miso soup;
- high-fibre foods such as, fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, beans and whole grains; as well as psyllium husks, slippery elm, oat bran, LSA (linseed, sunflower and almond meal);
- bananas; and
- possible supplements that may help include acidophilus and bifidus; and charcoal.
Decrease or avoid consumption of:
- spicy foods; and
- Most importantly, identify and treat the cause.
- Avoid any allergens and intolerances.
- Assess and treat any bacterial, viral or parasitic infection.
- Grated apple or carrot and black tea are old 'folk remedies'.
- Ginger and chamomile tea may help to relieve cramping.
- If diarrhoea lasts for longer than 2 – 3 days, or if there is blood in the stools (faeces), severe pain, fever, or dehydration, it would be best to make an appointment with your health care professional.
- Diarrhoea in babies and young children can be caused by excessive consumption of fruit juice, so it is best to limit these drinks.