Usually diarrhoea will resolve itself without the need for a ‘cure’ (such as antibiotics); the immune system will normally fight off the infection in just a few days. However, there are many ways to ease your symptoms during a bout of diarrhoea whilst the infection clears up.
Firstly, ensure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Your body loses a lot of fluids when suffering with diarrhoea and it is important to replenish these fluids. It’s recommended to take frequent yet small sips of water. If you are vomiting as well as having diarrhoea then it’s even more likely you will become dehydrated, making it even more important to replace the lost fluids from the body. Drinking fizzy drinks or fruit juices should be avoided as these can make diarrhoea worse.
Oral rehydration sachets are designed to replace the glucose, salts and electrolytes as well as fluids that are lost from the body through dehydration. Rehydration sachets may help to ease diarrhoea and will help ensure there is less risk of dehydration and electrolyte loss. Dioralyte is a popular brand of rehydration treatment that comes in a variety of flavours.
You can also take antidiarrhoeals to ease your symptoms. This class of treatment is designed to shorten how long you suffer and also, decrease the amount of diarrhoea you experience. The most recognised and popular antidiarrhoeal drug is Loperamide, which is also known as Imodium. Loperamide reduces the movement of muscles in the gut, allowing for more water to be absorbed from the stools. The result, the stools have a more solid consistency and they are passed less often. Loperamide is also a popular choice as it produces very few side-effects. Loperamide should not be taken if blood or mucus is present in the stools or if the sufferer has a very high temperature or fever.
Alternatively, some people may prefer to treat their diarrhoea using probiotic supplements, such as Acidophilus or OptiBac, to amend the bacterial balance in their digestive tract.
In more serious cases of diarrhoea where it does not resolve with the over-the-counter treatment above or risk factors detailed above in ‘Symptoms’ become present, you should consult a doctor for further treatment and investigation.
Antibiotics may be recommended if the diarrhoea is severe and if the cause has been identified as a bacterial infection. Antibiotics are not suitable for treating diarrhoea if the cause is unknown. If a virus is to blame then antibiotics will be completely ineffective.
On rare occasions admittance to hospital may be required. This is usually when the sufferer has become severely dehydrated due to diarrhoea. Fluids and nutrients will be intravenously administers in order to rehydrate the patient. Using oral rehydration sachets can help to prevent this risk.