Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Diarrhea Home Care

Home care for diarrhea includes:

Diarrhea Diarrhea in Adults

Home treatment of diarrhea in adults includes hydration and dietary therapy.

Hydration
Those who are able to drink liquids can restore lost water and salt with oral rehydration therapy (ORT).

ORT fluids are usually used in children, but are also effective for adults. These include:

  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte
  • ReVital
  • Generic drugstore brands

Additional ORT fluids include:
  • Soft drinks without caffeine
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • Tea
  • Water

Dietary Therapy
ORT is most important if you have vomiting with the diarrhea. Once vomiting and nausea resolves, eat bland foods first. If you tolerate bland food, then you can resume a normal diet.

Foods that may help diarrhea:
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Noodles
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Strained carrots
  • Wheat
  • Yogurt

Items that may worsen diarrhea include:
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • High-sugar foods (junk food)
  • Cow's milk
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugar substitutes

Diarrhea Diarrhea in Children

Home treatment of diarrhea in children includes hydration and dietary therapy.

Hydration
Those who are able to drink liquids can restore lost water and salt with oral rehydration therapy (ORT).

ORT fluids used in children include:

  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte
  • ReVital
  • Generic drugstore brands

Additional ORT fluids for older children include:
  • Soft drinks without caffeine
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • Tea
  • Water

Strategies for breast-fed infants under 6 months include:
  • Continue breast feeding as much as your baby desires.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement breast milk.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids every 30-60 minutes.
  • Prevent diaper rash by changing diapers frequently and apply Vaseline to the skin.
  • Watch for symptoms of dehydration.

Strategies for bottle-fed infants under 6 months:
  • Give your child normal amounts of formula.
  • Provide as much ORT fluids as your baby desires.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids every 30-60 minutes.
  • If vomiting occurs, try a lactose-free formula.
  • Prevent diaper rash by changing diapers frequently and apply Vaseline to the skin.
  • Watch for symptoms of dehydration.

Strategies for children over 6 months:

Dietary Therapy
ORT is most important if you have vomiting with the diarrhea. Once vomiting and nausea resolves, provide bland foods first. If bland foods are tolerated, then you resume a normal diet.

Foods that may help diarrhea:
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Noodles
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Strained carrots
  • Wheat
  • Yogurt

Items that may worsen diarrhea include:
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • High-sugar foods junk food
  • Cow's milk
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugar substitutes

Diarrhea Fever in Adults

Medications commonly used to control fever in adults with diarrhea include:


Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.

Aspirin

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Ketoprofen

NSAID Precautions

Diarrhea Fever in Children

Common medications used at home for fever in children with diarrhea include:


Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Diarrhea Vomiting in Adults

Home care for vomiting in someone with diarrhea:

  • Drink clear liquids only, such as water, sports drinks, fruit juice and dilute tea. Sports drinks are best. The absence of food allows the intestines to rest.
  • Drink small quantities of fluids frequently. In general, two tablespoons of fluid every 5 minutes is an effective strategy.
  • Avoid milk and dairy products for 3 days.
  • Avoid liquids that irritate the stomach, such as citrus juice, alcohol and coffee.
  • If nausea or vomiting continues despite the above, consider one of the nonprescription medicines listed below.
  • Once vomiting and nausea resolves, start bland foods first. If you tolerate bland food, then you can resume a normal diet.

Nonprescription medications for vomiting include:

Diarrhea Vomiting in Children

Home treatment of vomiting in children with diarrhea includes hydration and dietary therapy. Those who are able to drink liquids can restore lost water and salt with oral rehydration therapy (ORT).

ORT fluids used in infants include:

  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte

ORT fluids used in older children include:
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • Broth
  • Dilute fruit juices
  • Flat soda
  • Weak tea with sugar

Strategies for breast-fed infants younger than 6 months:
  • If the infant tolerates breast milk, continue breast-feeding in small amounts very frequently.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement breast milk.
  • Feed very small amounts every 30-60 minutes, or try giving small amounts more frequently, such as:
    • Children up to 5 kg (11 lb): give 5 ml (1 teaspoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 5-10 kg (11-22 lb): give 10 ml (2 teaspoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Strategies for formula-fed infants younger than 6 months:
  • If the infant tolerates formula, continue to provide small amounts very frequently.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement formula.
  • Try giving small amounts more frequently, such as:
    • Children up to 5 kg (11 lb): give 5 ml (1 teaspoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 5-10 kg (11-22 lb): give 10 ml (2 teaspoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Strategies for children over 6 months:
  • Provide as much ORT fluids as your child desires.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids more frequently:
    • Children 10-20 kg (22-44 lb): 15 ml (1 tablespoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 20-40 kg (44-88 lb): 22 ml (1 and 1/2 tablespoons) every 5 minutes
    • Children 40 kg (88 lb) and over: 30 ml (2 tablespoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Dietary Therapy
Most children with vomiting improve in a few hours and symptoms usually resolve in one day. Once vomiting and nausea resolves, provide bland foods first. If bland foods are tolerated, then you resume a normal diet.

Foods that are easiest to tolerate include:
  • Crackers
  • Oatmeal
  • Jell-O
  • Soft foods
  • Yogurt

Foods to avoid include:
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • Junk foods
  • Milk products
  • Recently introduced foods
  • Spicy foods

Nonprescription medicines for vomiting should only be used under the direction of your doctor.

Diarrhea Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have diarrhea and any of the following:

Continue to Diarrhea Prevention

Last Updated: Feb 15, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Diarrhea References
  1. Aranda-Michel J, Giannella RA. Acute diarrhea: a practical review. Am J Med. 1999 Jun;106(6):670-6. [10378626]
  2. Camilleri M. Chronic diarrhea: a review on pathophysiology and management for the clinical gastroenterologist. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2004 Mar;2(3):198-206. [15017602]
  3. Fine KD, Schiller LR. AGA technical review on the evaluation and management of chronic diarrhea. Gastroenterology. 1999 Jun;116(6):1464-86. [10348832]
  4. Mylonakis E, Ryan ET, Calderwood SB. Clostridium difficile--Associated diarrhea: A review. Arch Intern Med. 2001 Feb 26;161(4):525-33. [11252111]
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