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Managing Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a common problem; however it can decrease quality of life. Diarrhea is frequent, loose, watery bowel movements that pass through your gastrointestinal tract too quickly for nutrients and water to be absorbed. Diarrhea can be caused by an infection, food poisoning and/or medication side effects, or can be the symptom of a more serious condition. Diarrhea lasting less than three days is considered short-term and can be managed with some dietary changes. If diarrhea persists, it may be necessary to speak with a doctor.

Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so it is extremely important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water. For short-term diarrhea, it may be helpful to follow a clear liquid diet for 24 hours to allow for bowel rest and to replace lost fluids. Once you start adding solid food back to your diet, follow the guidelines below:

  • Choose foods that are easy to digest:
    Yogurt Cottage cheese
    Rice, Noodle, Potatoes Farina or Cream of wheat
    Eggs (not fried) Creamy peanut butter
    White bread Canned, peeled fruits
    Well-cooked vegetables Skinned chicken or turkey, lean beef and fish
  • Avoid foods that stimulate your gastrointestinal system:
    Fatty, Greasy, Fried foods Raw vegetables
    Spicy hot foods Fruit seeds, skins or stringy fibers
    Milk and dairy products if lactose intolerant High fiber foods
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Eat and drink slowly
  • Drink liquids at room temperature, avoid extreme hot or cold beverages
  • Do not force yourself to eat
  • Rest after eating
  • Keep a food diary to determine if any specific foods cause diarrhea
  • Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol

** Sources: http://cancer.beaumont.edu, www.strengthforcaring.com**

Questions? Please call your Hospice of Huntington Dietitians:
Kellie Glass RD, LD (606) 615-2585 or Amy McFann RD, LD (304) 690-5063