Diarrhea or loose stools may be caused by an infection, parasites, certain medications, intestinal disease, food intolerance, hormone disorders, bowel cancer or lactose intolerance. You can stop diarrhea fast with one of two different kinds of over-the-counter medication, Imodium (loperamide) or Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate).
The following two over-the-counter (OTC) drugs may be taken to get rid of diarrhea:
- Imodium (loperamide): Loperamide slows down the movement of things through the intestines (bowels). This allows more fluid to be absorbed into the body. This reduces the number of loose stools and helps make more formed stools.
- Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate): Bismuth subsalicylate balances the way fluid moves through the intestines. It reduces inflammation. It keeps bacteria and viruses that cause diarrhea from growing in the stomach and intestines.
Don’t use more than one OTC antidiarrheal medicine at a time unless the doctor suggests it. They may have similar active ingredients, resulting in you taking too much of a certain medication. Apart from the above options, another way to get rid of diarrhea is to take antibiotics. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics, if necessary. The doctor will not prescribe antibiotics for diarrhea caused by a virus.
- The BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) is an old dietary recommendation. Staying away from heavy fatty foods and dairy except for probiotic-rich yogurt is almost always a good strategy. Dietary strategies are aimed at bowel rest and, therefore, following a bland diet can be helpful.
- Consume as much fluid as possible, but avoid dehydrating beverages with sugar, caffeine, alcohol or prunes because they have a laxative effect.
- Make up for the lost minerals by constantly sipping on oral rehydration solution (ORS) or a mixture of lemon, water, salt and sugar throughout the day. Clear soups, chicken broth, buttermilk and fruit juices are also hydrating.
An additional intake of coconut water, certain fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers and bottle gourd, with a regular dosage of water can help the body rejuvenate and recover from the impact of diarrhea. Drink plenty of fluids, such as soups and broths, which have concentrates of fresh and leafy vegetables for an elevated hydration level in the body. This should replenish nutrients that get flushed out of the body due to diarrhea. This will also strengthen the body and help it recover faster.
What are the possible causes of diarrhea?
Viral infections are the most common cause of diarrhea or loose stool. Rotavirus, calicivirus and adenovirus cause diarrhea.
A few other causes of diarrhea are
How to prevent diarrhea
Treatment for any underlying condition, such as intestinal disorders, may help prevent diarrhea. Hand washing is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria that can cause diarrhea. Always wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet or changing diapers and before meals. The following rules may also help prevent diarrhea:
- Ensure that meat is cooked thoroughly.
- Avoid eating raw meats, fish and shellfish, unless they are freshly prepared and from a reliable source.
- Never place cooked meat on surfaces or plates that have held raw meat.
- Disinfect benchtops, stovetops and chopping boards with a diluted bleach solution.
- Limit consumption of fatty, sweet or spicy foods.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Consume more starchy foods, such as bananas, rice and bread.
- Consume probiotics, such as yogurt.
Medically Reviewed on 5/26/2021