Along with knowing what to eat and drink when you’re dealing with gastrointestinal woes, it’s also important to be mindful of other everyday habits to help you deal with diarrhea.
Do wash your hands. Since diarrhea can sometimes be transmitted by person-to-person contact or from contaminated hands, washing your hands after using the bathroom and before you eat can help block possible diarrhea-causing pathogens. Research published in September 2015 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that handwashing can reduce episodes of diarrhea by about 30 percent. To wash properly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wetting your hands, then applying soap and rubbing them together for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to include the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Rinse with clean, running water and dry thoroughly. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol can work, too.
Do know when to call the doctor. Mayo Clinic advises to seek medical help if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Your diarrhea lasts more than two days.
- You experience severe abdominal pain or pain in your rectum.
- You’re dehydrated or exceptionally weak.
- You have a fever of 102 degrees F or higher.
- Your stools are bloody or black and tar-like.
Do consider medication. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicine containing bismuth-subsalicylate (like Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate) can help reduce intestinal inflammation and kill diarrhea-causing organisms. Although loperamide (Imodium), another OTC antidiarrheal medication, is sometimes recommended. “This is an anti-mobility, meaning that it stops your gastrointestinal tract from moving. Although it can slow down the diarrhea, it’s better instead for it to come out,” she says. “It’s your body’s way of ridding itself of any toxins.”
Don’t exercise. Strenuous exercise has the potential to cause dehydration, stomach distress, nausea, and heartburn can worsen your symptoms. It’s wise to avoid it until your diarrhea subsides, who says to wait until you’re fully recovered to go back to the gym.