Tips to treat and prevent diarrhoea
Diarrhoea - the frequent passage of loose, watery stools - is often caused by infections from contaminated food or water.
Tips to treat diarrhoea
- Replace lost fluid and electrolytes (minerals dissolved in fluids) with water, fruit juices diluted with water, rehydration drinks, or sports drinks. Try to drink at least 500ml (16floz) of fluid every one to two hours to prevent dehydration.
- Avoid very hot or very cold liquids, coffee, alcohol, or caffeinated soft drinks, all of which can irritate the intestine.
- Read product labels and check with your chemist if medications and diet products contain sorbitol or lactulose, both of which can cause diarrhoea; discontinue taking them if possible.
- If you can tolerate food, eat yogurt with live cultures (to replace gut flora) and avoid insoluble fibre (whole grains) until the diarrhoea has resolved.
- Eat bland, non-fatty foods that are easily digested, and avoid milk, red meats, and highly seasoned food.
- If the bout of diarrhoea is a short-term problem, avoid high-fibre foods, such as whole grains and fresh vegetables and fruits, all of which can be difficult for the irritated intestine to digest. If the diarrhoea lasts for more than two weeks, increasing soluble fibre intake may help, but you should see your GP.
Tips to prevent diarrhoea
- Wash your hands after using the toilet and changing baby's nappies.
- Frequently wash bathroom and food preparation surfaces.
- When travelling overseas, drink only bottled water, carbonated soft drinks, and drinks made with boiled water such as tea and coffee. Do not drink tap water or have ice that has been made from tap water.
- Avoid meat or fish that is raw or rare, or that is not served hot.
- Peel fruits and vegetables.
See more in the dossier: Nutrition for digestive disorders
- A bit about digestive disorders
- Nutrition and digestive disorders
- Case study: young woman with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Coping with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- Dealing with lactose intolerance
- Diverticular disorders
- Gluten-free diet for coeliac disease
- Nutritional advice for digestive disorders
- Preventing and treating gall stones
- Tips to treat indigestion
- Tips to treat and prevent peptic ulcers
- Tips to treat constipation
- Treating gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
- Treating irritable bowel syndrome
- Difficult digestion? Get some fibre!
- What to eat when you’ve got gastroenteritis...
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