Diarrhoea is reasonably common and usually nothing to worry about, although we know you’ll want to get over an episode as quickly as possible. Here we’ll look at some possible causes of diarrhoea and ways you can speed up your recovery.
What is diarrhoea?
Most healthy adults have bowel movements between three times a week and three times a day.1 Our bodies are efficient when it comes to absorbing nutrients and fluid from food in the gut. Diarrhoea is a symptom of digestive health becoming disturbed, for example, by a virus or bacteria.2
What causes diarrhoea
The most common causes of diarrhoea include viruses, like norovirus, and bacteria picked up from contaminated food.3 Some water-borne parasites can also cause diarrhoea.
If you’re suffering from diarrhoea often, it could be a symptom of anxiety, a food allergy, medication, or a long-term medical condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
How to get rid of diarrhoea
Diarrhoea is usually nothing to worry about and can be dealt with at home without the need for medical attention. Seek medical advice if symptoms last for more than 14 days, you notice blood in your stool, you develop a fever, or cramping becomes severe and consistent.4
Get plenty of rest
You can usually treat diarrhoea at home, and it will be vital that you stay at home if you can, to help prevent the spread of infection. You should stay home until you haven’t had diarrhoea or been sick for at least two days.5 Getting plenty of rest is an excellent way to help your recovery along, too.
You must drink lots of fluids, like water or diluted squash, to stay hydrated. However, avoid fizzy drinks or sugary fruit juices, as these can make diarrhoea worse. Drinking a prepared oral rehydration solution can be an excellent way to replenish the fluids and salts lost in diarrhoea.6
You can pick up an anti-diarrhoea drug from your local pharmacy without a prescription. You might find this a useful option to reduce the frequency of bowel movements. However, these aren’t suitable for babies or young children.
If you need to get over your diarrhoea quickly, for example, if you’re travelling and can’t afford to lose a day, a short course or single dose of antibiotic might help.7 Antibiotics should be a last resort, since overuse to treat trivial conditions, like diarrhoea, means they are becoming less effective in treating more severe infections.8
If you’re going through an episode of diarrhoea, be sure to stay home and get plenty of rest. Take care of your digestive health and get back to feeling your like best self in no time.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
Last updated: 23 June 2020