- How to Feel Better
- Anti-diarrheal Medicines: OTC Relief for Diarrhea
- Path to improved health
- Things to consider
- When should I call my doctor?
- Questions to ask your doctor
- Pepto-Bismol Original Liquid
- Imodium Advanced Multi-Symptom Relief Caplets
- Turmeric Curcumin with Bioperine
- DiaResQ Vanilla Diarrhea Relief for Adults
- Kaopectate Multi-Symptom Relief Anti-Diarrheal Upset Stomach Reliever Caplets
- Yogi Ginger tea
- Best Over-the-Counter Solutions to Your Digestive Problem
- For Heartburn
- For Nausea and Vomiting
- For Constipation
- For Diarrhea
- Finding Relief
How to Feel Better
Diarrhea should go away in a few days without treatment. Until you feel better, rest, drink enough fluids, and watch what you eat.
Your body loses water with each trip to the bathroom. If you lose too much, you can get dehydrated. It’s important to keep drinking fluids.
Drink clear liquids — water, broth, or fruit juice — during the day to stay hydrated. Try to get about 2-3 liters (8-12 cups) a day while you’re sick. You can sip them in small amounts between meals instead of while you eat. Your doctor might recommend a sports drink to replace salt, potassium, and other electrolytes your body loses when you have diarrhea. If you also have nausea, sip the liquids slowly.
There is no particular food group that will best for treating diarrhea and physicians no longer recommend the long suggested BRAT diet of Bananas, Rice (white), Applesauce, and Toast. Still, all of these foods are good, valid options. Some other good choices include:
- Smooth peanut butter
- Skinless chicken or turkey
Avoid foods that can make diarrhea or gas worse, like:
- Fatty or fried foods
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- Spicy foods
- Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and soda
Anti-diarrheal Medicines: OTC Relief for Diarrhea
Diarrhea is when you have frequent and liquid bowel movements. Many things can cause it, including:
- bacteria and parasites
- medicines such as antibiotics
- lactose intolerance
- fructose or artificial sweeteners
- digestive disorders such as celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome
It is a common condition that most of the time doesn’t require treatment. It usually lasts only a couple of days, whether you treat it or not. But medicine can help you feel better. It especially helps if you also have cramping or stomach pain.
What types of OTC medicines treat diarrhea?
You can buy over-the-counter (OTC) medicines without a prescription from your doctor. Some OTC medicines can help you feel better if you have diarrhea. These are called antidiarrheal medicines. Antidiarrheal medicines include:
- loperamide (1 brand name: Imodium)
- bismuth subsalicylate (2 brand names: Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol).
Bismuth subsalicylate can also be used for upset stomach.
Path to improved health
How do OTC antidiarrheal medicines work?
Loperamide slows down how fast things move through your intestines (bowels). This allows more fluid to be absorbed into your body. This helps you have less diarrhea and more formed stools.
Bismuth subsalicylate balances the way fluid moves through your intestines. It reduces inflammation. It keeps bacteria and viruses that cause diarrhea from growing in the stomach and intestines.
How do I safely take OTC antidiarrheal medicines?
Before you take an OTC antidiarrheal medicine, read the directions on the drug facts label. This will tell you how much medicine to take and how often to take it. If you have any questions, call your family doctor or pharmacist. Keep a record of which OTC medicines you are using and when you take them. If you need to go to the doctor, take this list with you.
Follow these tips to make sure you are taking the right amount of medicine:
- Take only the amount recommended on the medicine’s label. Don’t assume that more medicine will work better or quicker. Taking more than the recommended amount can be dangerous.
- If you take prescription medicine, ask your doctor if it’s okay to take OTC antidiarrheal medicine.
- Don’t use more than 1 OTC antidiarrheal medicine at a time unless your doctor says it’s okay. They may have similar active ingredients. These could add up to be too much medicine.
How can I safely store OTC antidiarrheal medicines?
Store all medicines up and away, out of reach and sight of young children. Keep medicines in a cool, dry place. This will help prevent them from becoming less effective. Do not store medicines in bathrooms or bathroom cabinets. They are often hot and humid.
Things to consider
Healthy adults usually don’t experience side effects from antidiarrheal medicines. But side effects may be a concern if you are older or have health problems. Call your doctor if you notice any side effects.
Loperamide side effects may include:
- abdominal pain
- nausea or vomiting
Bismuth subsalicylate side effects may include:
- blackened stools and/or tongue
- ringing sound in the ear (called tinnitus)
Who shouldn’t take OTC antidiarrheal medicines?
Don’t take antidiarrheal medicines if bacteria or parasites are causing your diarrhea. If you have a “stomach bug,” your body needs to get rid of the bacteria or parasite that is causing the diarrhea. Stopping the diarrhea in this case can actually make your condition worse. Talk to your family doctor if you think you have a bacterial or parasitic infection.
Don’t give loperamide to children 2 years of age or younger unless your doctor says it’s okay. Check with your doctor before using loperamide for older children, as well.
You shouldn’t take loperamide if you have a fever. Don’t use it if you’ve ever had a rash or an allergic reaction after taking it. Don’t take loperamide if you have bloody or black stools. These may be signs of a more serious problem, such as a bacterial infection.
Some people are allergic to aspirin or other salicylate medicines. They should not take bismuth subsalicylate. Don’t give bismuth subsalicylate to children 12 years of age or younger. Don’t give it to children or teenagers who may have the flu or chickenpox. This increases their risk for Reye syndrome. This is a serious illness that can lead to death.
Can OTC antidiarrheal medicines cause problems with other medicines I take?
Taking certain medicines with antidiarrheal medicines can increase your risk for side effects. Bismuth subsalicylate also may affect some medicines so they don’t work as well. Ask your doctor before taking loperamide or bismuth subsalicylate if you also take:
- antiviral medicines for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- prescription pain medicines
- blood-thinning medicines
- medicines for gout
- medicines for arthritis
- medicines for diabetes
Also ask your doctor before taking bismuth subsalicylate if you take pain relievers or cold medicines. These medicines may contain aspirin, which is a salicylate. You may get too much salicylate if you take more than 1 of these medicines at a time.
When should I call my doctor?
Talk to your doctor before taking an antidiarrheal medicine if:
- Your diarrhea lasts longer than 2 days
- You have a fever
- You have mucus or blood in your stools
- You have a history of liver disease
- You are taking prescription medicine
Questions to ask your doctor
- What is causing my diarrhea?
- How long will it last if I don’t treat it?
- Will taking an OTC antidiarrheal medicine shorten the length of time the diarrhea lasts?
- Will antidiarrheal medicines make me constipated?
- What side effects should I watch out for if I take antidiarrheal medicine?
One item no traveler wants to pick up on their trip is an uncomfortable illness. It’s never, ever fun and traveler’s diarrhea is one of the most common (and one of the least pleasant) traveler’s diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as high as 50 percent of international travelers suffer some form of traveler’s diarrhea and diarrheal diseases account for 1 in 9 child deaths worldwide, making diarrhea the second leading cause of death for children under the age of five.
Nearly all diarrhea-associated deaths worldwide are attributed to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and insufficient hygiene. Other causes of traveler’s diarrhea include changes in diet, dehydration from flying, changes in climate, traveler’s stress and even lack of sleep.
The most common cause of traveler’s diarrhea is exposure to bacteria – particularly E. coli and while an E. coli vaccine has been in the works for some years now, there’s no sign it will be available any time soon.
While most diarrheal germs are spread from the stool of an infected person to the mouth of another, these germs are passed via a wide-ranging number of items including glassware, utensils, doorknobs, faucet handles, and tools, as well as through food and water.
1. Avoid High-Risk Areas for Traveler’s Diarrhea
According to the CDC, the highest-risk destinations for traveler’s diarrhea break down like this:
Low risk – The U.S., Canada, Northern and Western Europe, New Zealand, Australia and some Caribbean islands.
Medium risk – Eastern Europe, South Africa, Argentina, Chile and some Caribbean islands.
Highest risk – Most developing countries in Latin America, including Mexico, Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
While in some high-risk areas it may be all but impossible to avoid some exposure to traveler’s diarrhea there are measures that every traveler can implement to reduce their personal risk.
2. Prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea with these Simple Practices
The best step to avoiding traveler’s diarrhea is putting into place practices that help you avoid it entirely. The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have strong recommendations that help travelers avoid their exposure to germs. These include the following:
Consume foods that are fully cooked and served hot (avoid items that have been sitting in a buffet line, for example)
Eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them carefully in clean water or peeled them
Drink only beverages in factory-sealed containers and if you can’t pour it into a clean glass, clean the container carefully around the rim where you will drink.
Avoid ice unless you know that it was made from clean water.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with alcohol.
Keep your hands away from your mouth (keeping your hands away from your eyes and nose will help prevent the transmission of cold and flu viruses as well)
Drink plenty of clean water every day
Even if a traveler implements these steps and regularly practices good hygiene, they may contract traveler’s diarrhea. Let’s look at how to recognize it.
3. Recognize Traveler’s Diarrhea
The symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea are familiar to many, and include stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting and of course, diarrhea. In otherwise healthy travelers, diarrhea is rarely serious or life-threatening, but dangerous complications can develop that go far beyond the unpleasant physical discomfort and screwed up travel plans.
In the worst cases, diarrhea can be a cause of severe dehydration, an emergency medical situation that can put you into the hospital. It can also cause malnutrition if it lasts for more than a day or two. In either situation, you might need medical care.
4. Be Prepared for Traveler’s Diarrhea
Ensure that you have access to plenty of clean water if you get traveler’s diarrhea. This is especially important for young children or adults with chronic illnesses. Pack oral rehydration salts in your travel medical kit – these aid in fluid replacement.
Several antimotility medications, such as Pepto Bismol or Imodium, can be purchased and used to treat the symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea. These drugs relieve the need for the traveler to stay close to a bathroom and make it easier for a traveler suffering from diarrhea to use transportation like buses, airplanes and trains while the antibiotic takes effect. They do not, however, constitute a complete cure.
Antibiotics are a principal method of treating traveler’s diarrhea. Many travelers carry a dose of antibiotics to treat illnesses. Ask your doctor for a prescription and understand when they should be taken before you leave.
5. Treat Traveler’s Diarrhea
The symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea usually clear up in a day or two, but to speed recovery, you’ll need to make some changes in your diet and avoid caffeinated drinks as well as alcohol.
There are essentially three components to treating traveler’s diarrhea:
Fluid replacement (consider including the oral rehydration solution)
Over the counter antimotility drugs (the most common are Pepto Bismol and Imodium)
Antibiotics (two common antibiotics are Ciproflaxacin and Norfloxacin)
Once a traveler identifies their symptoms as diarrhea, it’s important to realize that significant fluid and electrolytes are lost when diarrhea strikes. Regular replenishment is critical to staying healthy while treating the diarrhea illness itself. Taking the antimotility agents (per the instructions on the bottle) can help with the need to visit the restroom often, but those also exacerbate the feelings of dehydration so plenty of clean fresh water is key to treating traveler’s diarrhea.
Take the antibiotics per the doctor’s instructions, keep drinking plenty of water, and washing your hands thoroughly and you should be feeling better soon.
6. When to Seek Medical Help
It’s important to note that antibiotic treatment is useful in cases of bacterial diarrhea but not for amebic dysentery, viruses, or food toxins – in fact, antibiotics can make these infections worse.
If the traveler’s condition is accompanied by a fever or lethargy or the diarrhea persists for more than a day or two, consider seeking medical attention. The following are signs that you should seek medical help:
Blood or mucus in the stool
Persistent symptoms for more than 48 hours
Inability to keep down light foods or liquids (vomiting)
See Finding Medical Care on the Road and In a Hurry for details on seeking medical treatment.
What can you do to find diarrhea relief?
The first step is to decide whether you need to see a doctor or not.
You should see a doctor if:
- you have a fever over 38.5°C or 101.3°F
- you have severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhea, or black stools
- your stools are soft and yellow
- your stools are grey, white, or greasy
- you’re taking an antibiotic or another new medication
- you can’t keep fluids down because of vomiting
- you’re having more than 6 loose stools each day
- you are dehydrated (weak, thirsty, dizzy, dry mouth, decreased urination)
- your diarrhea has lasted more than 48 hours (or 24 hours for babies)
Children should be brought to a doctor if they have any of the symptoms above, or if they have been vomiting for more than 4 hours or are under 6 months of age.
Otherwise, you can treat your own diarrhea at home. Here’s how to manage your diarrhea:
Try an over the counter treatment. There are a number of over the counter treatments available for diarrhea relief, such as loperamide (Imodium™), attapulgite (Kaopectate®), and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol®).
How do these medications work? Normally, water is reabsorbed as food passes through your bowels. With diarrhea, the bowels are moving too quickly for enough water to be reabsorbed, so the liquid stays in the stools, making them loose and watery. Each diarrhea medication works on this process in a slightly different way. Loperamide works by bringing the movement of the bowels back to a more normal level so that they can reabsorb water to make stools more solid. Attapulgite absorbs the extra liquids in the bowel, which helps make stools more solid. It can be used for up to 2 days. Bismuth works by decreasing inflammation, killing certain bacteria that can cause diarrhea, and blocking the body from releasing more fluid into the bowels.
Don’t get dehydrated. Dehydation is one of the dangers of diarrhea. If severe enough, diarrhea can lead to fainting, an irregular heartbeat, and other complications. Rehydrating yourself when you have diarrhea is an essential part of treating your diarrhea to lower your risk of dehydration. Dehydration happens because your body loses water and important salts called electrolytes more quickly when you have diarrhea. You can stay hydrated by drinking plenty of clear fluids. Children and seniors are at a higher risk of getting dehydrated, so it’s very important that they stay well hydrated when they have diarrhea. Children and seniors may need a special rehydration drink (such as Gastrolyte® or Pedialyte®), available from your local pharmacy or grocery store. Talk to your pharmacist to find out how much of the rehydration drink (also called rehydration solution) they need to consume each day.
Call your doctor if things don’t improve. Usually, your diarrhea will improve in a day or two. But if things change and you notice any of the symptoms listed above (such as high fever, bloody stools, or severe stomach pain), if you can’t seem to drink enough fluid to stay hydrated, or if the treatments you have tried do not seem to be working, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend other treatments, including prescription medications.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Diarrhea—Did-You-Know
It’s like the childhood book taught us—everybody poops, right? But there’s a big difference between needing to go number two and having uncontrollable diarrhea, especially at inopportune times … like before a big work meeting, at a wedding, or while you’re on vacation.
Diarrhea is defined as passing loose, watery stools, three or more times a day. “There can be many different causes, but it’s most commonly due to food intolerances, certain medications, celiac disease, bacterial or viral infections, or IBS-D,” says Taz Bhatia, MD, an integrative health expert and founder of CentreSpring MD.
IBS-D, which stands for irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, affects 25 to 45 million people in the U.S., and 2 out of 3 are female. “Patients with IBS-D often experience abdominal pain along with increased frequency of bowel movements, and these symptoms—along with others, like bloating—may force them to miss important social events, school, or professional obligations,” says Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, a gastroenterologist at Illinois Gastroenterology Group.
Whatever’s causing your repeated trips to the loo, make sure you drink up: With diarrhea comes the serious risk of dehydration. But you may also need some medication to help settle your stomach.
If you suspect that you have IBS, celiac disease, or another chronic GI issue, see your doctor to make sure that you get the right help. But for most people—including those who only get diarrhea occasionally—one of the following OTC remedies should offer quick relief. Stock your medicine cabinet now so you’ll be ready the next time you end up with the runs.
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Pepto-Bismol Original Liquid
If you’ve seen the commercial, you probably know the jingle about this medicine and what it helps relieve: “Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea.” This pink potion coats your stomach so you feel better fast, and it can be extremely helpful after overindulging in some not-so-healthy foods. Plus, the drinkable version is perfect for people who don’t like swallowing pills. (Psst! Here are 6 signs your stomachache isn’t normal.)
Buy now: $5-7, amazon.com; target.com; walgreens.com
Heal minor health problems on the go with these purse-sized items:
Imodium Advanced Multi-Symptom Relief Caplets
If you can’t stop running to the restroom, this medicine is here for you. Pop two pills and let both active ingredients loperamide HCI (which slows movement in your GI tract) and simethicone (a bloat-buster) start working right away. It’s perfect during a diarrhea crisis, or you can take it as a preventative measure before a big day. But, if you find that celiac disease is the cause of your issues, talk to your doctor before using: Imodium caplets are not certified gluten-free as some ingredients are wheat-derived.
Buy now: $9, amazon.com; walgreens.com; target.com
MORE: 9 Things That May Surprise You About IBS
Turmeric Curcumin with Bioperine
Chances are you’ve heard about the wonders of turmeric; maybe you’ve even tried it to see if it would help with an inflammatory issue, like arthritis. But did you know that the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties can also help ease diarrhea? Taz suggests adding a teaspoon to warm water. (You can also try one of these 9 ways to add more turmeric to any meal.)
Buy now: $18, amazon.com
DiaResQ Vanilla Diarrhea Relief for Adults
Unlike some of the other products on this list, these powder packets actually provide much-needed nutrients as well as other ingredients to keep you energized and help restore intestinal function. Mixing cups are provided with purchase; simply mix 30 milliliters of water with a packet and drink it down. Add it to your packing list if you’re headed somewhere that severe traveler’s diarrhea is common.
Buy now: $19, amazon.com
MORE: How Often Is Too Often For Diarrhea, And When Should You Worry?
Kaopectate Multi-Symptom Relief Anti-Diarrheal Upset Stomach Reliever Caplets
It contains the same active ingredient that’s found in Pepto Bismol, but Kaopectate pills are a good option if drinking something pink or chewing chalky tablets isn’t your thing. Again, if you suffer from celiac disease, these caplets are not certified gluten-free. (Here’s what to do if you suffer from runner’s trots.)
Buy now: $5, amazon.com; walmart.com
Yogi Ginger tea
If you’re looking for a more natural way to relieve diarrhea or improve on your IBS-management routine, try sipping on this ginger tea. Add a spoonful of honey; according to Taz, honey and ginger can help soothe the stomach and reduce irritation.
Buy now: $4, amazon.com; target.com; walmart.com
PREVENTION PREMIUM: The Healthiest Herbal Tea Is…
Amy Schlinger Amy Schlinger is a skilled health and fitness writer and editor based in New York City.
Best Over-the-Counter Solutions to Your Digestive Problem
You know the signs all too well. Your stomach starts gurgling, your chest starts burning, you start cramping—and you begin your frantic search for the bathroom. Digestive problems can be embarrassing, and not something people want to talk about openly—even with their doctor. But as I tell my patients, these problems are strikingly common, and affect many people on a daily basis.
While digestive problems often go away on their own, over-the-counter medications can help to relieve many of the symptoms that are interfering with your every day life. Here’s a guide to the OTC medicines you can use to soothe tummy or digestive troubles.
Remember: These medicines are only meant for occasional, short-term use; if your problems persist or worsen, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you come up with a treatment plan (including lifestyle changes) that can bring you long-lasting relief.
If you suffer from heartburn, you’re probably all too familiar with that burning sensation in your stomach, chest or throat that can cause discomfort. This irritation is caused by an imbalance of acid in your stomach.
Heartburn is often triggered by eating a big meal or certain foods, and occurs when your stomach contents rise into your esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest, behind the breastbone and in the mid-abdomen.
Several types of over-the-counter medicines can help to relieve your symptoms and reduce your stomach’s acidity:
- Antacids provide quick, short-term relief by neutralizing stomach acid. Antacids may include ingredients like baking soda, calcium carbonate or magnesium compounds.
- Alginic acids are often combined with antacids to provide quick relief. While antacids help to neutralize stomach acid, alginic acids form a protective barrier within your GI tract, coating and protecting inflamed areas.
- H2 blockers, like famotidine, cimetidine, and ranitidine, lower the amount of acid your stomach makes. While it takes up to an hour for H2 blockers to work, the effects last longer than antacids, up to 12 hours.Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) provide long-lasting reduction, up to 24 hours, in stomach acid production. Lansoprazole and omeprazole are both types of proton pump inhibitors.
Side effects of these three drug classes are usually minor and often resolve on their own. They include nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and headaches. Your doctor can let you know which type of OTC medicine will work best for you. Talk to your doctor before using antacids if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking prescription medications, or if you have problems with ulcers, the liver or your kidneys.
For Nausea and Vomiting
Last night’s Chinese take-out leftovers seem like a great meal idea—until your stomach clearly begins to disagree with you. Nausea and vomiting are one of your body’s major defenses against food poisoning, and can also arise from problems like motion sickness and overeating. While the best way to cure an upset stomach from most cases of food poisoning is to let your body rid itself of the bacteria causing your discomfort, over-the-counter antiemetics can come in handy when dealing with nausea and vomiting symptoms caused by motion sickness and certain other conditions. There are two main types of OTC medications used to treat nausea and vomiting:
- Bismuth subsalicylate, the active ingredient in OTC medications like Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol, protects your stomach lining. Bismuth subsalicylate is also used to treat ulcers, upset stomach and diarrhea.
- Other medicines include cyclizine, dimenhydrinate, diphenhydramine, and meclizine. These can be found in medicines such as Dramamine, Bonine, or others, and they dull motion sickness by acting on your brain. They block messages from reaching the part of the brain that controls nausea and vomiting
Side effects of bismuth subsalicylate are usually very minor and short-lived; the most common side effects are a darkened tongue or stools, however, it’s important not to give medicines with bismuth subsalicylate to children or teenagers with chicken pox or flu-like symptoms, since symptoms such as changes in behavior with nausea or vomiting could be an early sign of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but serious illness. Talk to a doctor right away. Since some antiemtics can make you sleepy, read the label carefully and heed any warnings about mixing with alcohol, driving or operating machinery. Don’t take antiemetics without reading the label first, and talk to your doctor if there are any warnings on your medication of choice: there are several drugs and health conditions that don’t mix well with antiemetics, including certain common pain relievers.
What’s causing your constipation? Most likely, something on your dinner table. A diet high in dairy products and low in fiber and water can make it difficult for you to pass a stool. If you’ve gone more than three days without a bowel movement, or are having trouble passing a stool, you might consider temporarily taking a laxative to help you through the problem.
There are several types of laxatives available over-the counter; your doctor can help you decide which one is best for you:
- Bulk-forming laxatives, which often contain ingredients like psyllium, methylcellulose and polycarbophil, draw water into the stool to make them larger and easier to pass. Drink plenty of water while taking.
- Osmotic laxatives draw fluid into the bowel from the nearby tissue. Osmotic laxatives often have ingredients like polyethylene glycol or magnesium. Lubricant laxatives, such as glycerin suppositories, coat the surface of stools or the anus to make it easier for stools to pass. Mineral oil is a common lubricant laxative.
- Stimulant laxatives should only be used for a few days, as they are harsh on the body. They cause the bowels to squeeze the stool out.
Laxatives don’t usually have side effects, but, in some cases, they can cause cramping, gas, bloating, nausea or diarrhea. Don’t use laxatives for more than a week without checking in with your doctor: long-term laxative use can be unhealthy, and may mask a problem your doctor should know about. Your doctor can help you make lifestyle and dietary changes to treat constipation long-term.
Talk to your doctor before using laxatives if you have stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, a fever of over 101.5 degrees or a sudden change in your bowel habits that continues for two or more weeks. You should also consult your doctor if you are currently taking prescription medication: laxatives make it more difficult for your body to absorb certain medicines and nutrients.
Everyone experiences it now and again—the dreaded diarrhea. Diarrhea (large amounts of loose or watery stools) occurs when your colon is unable to adequately absorb the liquid from the food and fluids you ingest, and is most often caused by a stomach bug. Diarrhea doesn’t usually require medication, and resolves itself after a couple of days; most times, lifestyle changes can help prevent future cases of diarrhea. However, antidiarrheal medications can help with symptoms, especially if you have cramping. Your doctor may suggest one of two common over-the-counter antidiarrheals:
- Loperamide slows down fluid moving through your bowels.
- Bismuth subsalicylate decreases the flow of fluids in your bowel, and also reduces inflammation and may kill the bacteria that cause the diarrhea in the first place.
Loperamide can make you drowsy, so be sure to read the label carefully; the label will tell you what behaviors, if any, you should avoid while on the medication. Bismuth subsalicylate can make your tongue and/or stool look black; this side effect is harmless. If you think your diarrhea might be caused by an infection, talk to your doctor, as another medicine might be better at treating the bug. You should also talk to your doctor if you have a fever or find mucus or blood in your stools, as your diarrhea may signal a more serious problem.
The right over-the-counter medicine can bring quick relief for many short-term gastrointestinal problems. Remember to read the labels of any medicines you are planning to take, and talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns.