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What Are Different Types of Diarrhea Treatment?

A.E. Freeman
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Several types of diarrhea treatment are available, depending on the severity of the condition. In many cases, a person can treat diarrhea at home or may recover without any treatment at all. Drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding fatty or spicy foods can be helpful. More severe cases may require antibiotics or prescription anti-diarrheal medications or intravenous fluids. Other types of diarrhea treatment include over-the-counter medicines such as bismuth subsalicylate, loperamide, and absorbents.

Typically, diarrhea treatment involves getting enough fluids to prevent dehydration and eating certain foods to avoid exacerbating the condition. Water, juice, and regular soda are all suitable drinks for preventing dehydration. A drink with extra electrolytes may be especially useful for treating diarrhea in younger children. Some beverages, such as milk, alcoholic drinks, and drinks with caffeine, may make symptoms worse and should be avoided.

When a person has diarrhea, it is recommended that he try to eat bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, which is known as the BRAT diet. Rice and toast are low in fiber and can help bind and firm a person's stools. Bananas contain potassium, an important electrolyte. While the BRAT diet is usually an effective diarrhea treatment, if someone is also vomiting, he should avoid eating until the vomiting stops.

A person may also wish to take over-the-counter medicines to treat diarrhea. Medicine such as loperamide relax the small intestine and colon muscles, reducing the speed at which food particles move through the digestive tract and helping the body absorb more water from the stool before it leaves the body. Loperamide should only be used by people more than age two and shouldn't be used to treat diarrhea caused by C. difficile colitis or by certain other bacteria.

Other over-the-counter types of diarrhea treatment absorb water from the stools. There are generally two types of absorbents available over the counter, polycarbophil and attapulgite. Absorbents may cause bloating and constipation and can interact with other medicines, as they prevent the medicine from being absorbed into the body.

Bismuth subsalicylate can also treat diarrhea, though it should not be taken by people who are allergic to aspirin, because it contains aspirin. It should also not be given to children less than age two or to children who currently have chickenpox. Bismuth can effectively treat diarrhea caused by bacteria as well.

Severe cases of diarrhea may require hospitalization or a prescription medicine. Someone who cannot keep any food or liquid down requires intravenous fluids. Diarrhea caused by bacteria or a parasite, such as traveler's diarrhea, can be treated with antibiotics.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A.E. Freeman
By A.E. Freeman
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and retention. With a background in the arts, she combines her writing prowess with best practices to deliver compelling content across various domains and effectively connect with target audiences.
Discussion Comments
By cloudel — On Jun 14, 2012

I learned about some home dog diarrhea treatments after my dog started having diarrhea. She didn't seem sick otherwise, so I wanted to try a home remedy before taking her to the vet.

I had been reading that probiotic powder could help. It has the same stuff that yogurt has to help with digestive problems, so I sprinkled some in her water dish. She was drinking a lot at the time, so she absorbed plenty of the stuff.

Also, I had read that she should be eating canned pumpkin to help stop the diarrhea. It is supposed to make the dog's stool more substantial. It worked for my dog, and it kept me from having to pay a vet bill.

By kylee07drg — On Jun 13, 2012

Over-the-counter medicine is not a good severe diarrhea treatment. Anyone with watery diarrhea should see a doctor, because they are at risk of dying from dehydration, in my opinion.

I had rotavirus as a child, and I was vomiting and having diarrhea every few minutes. At that rate, I would have been totally devoid of liquid in no time at all, so my parents took me to the hospital.

I received fluids through an IV, along with shots and suppositories to stop the diarrhea and vomiting. The doctor told me that I could have died, had my parents not rushed me there.

I had to stay for five whole days to recover. I'm just thankful that my parents didn't keep pumping me full of OTC medicine and hoping for the best, because by the time they realized that the medicine was not going to work, it might have been too late.

By shell4life — On Jun 13, 2012

@seag47 – I don't see how you loved that taste! I hated having to take that stuff. It seemed to coat my tongue and throat, and it felt so chalky.

It felt like swallowing something that I shouldn't. Seriously, it was so thick and it tasted so strange.

I eventually talked my mom into buying the chewable version, and though it still tasted weird, it wasn't as bad as having to swallow that thick liquid. It did have an alarming side effect, though. It turned my tongue dark brown!

By seag47 — On Jun 12, 2012

I can't take absorbents, because I am on blood pressure medication, and I'm afraid that the absorbent would keep my body from getting the medicine. I have to take bismuth subsalicylate instead.

I have taken it since I was little, and it has usually worked. Sometimes, when my diarrhea was really persistent, I would have to take more of it after thirty minutes. Otherwise, the first dose would work.

Some people complain about the taste, but I loved it. I think I could have drunk this stuff like liquid candy if it wouldn't have been bad to do so.

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and...
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