Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms, Diet & Treatment

Diarrhea means the passage of loose, liquid Or watery stools, usually more than three times a day. Diarrhea caused by many reasons like allergies, food poisoning, bacterial infections, viral infections. Also caused by contaminated water and food. Based on severity and duration diarrhea can be classified acute and chronic diarrhea.

Acute diarrhea is the sudden onset of frequent stools of watery consisting abdominal pain, cramping, weakness and sometimes fever and vomiting. Diarrhea is chronic when it’s persists for 2 weeks or longer. Nutritional deficiencies develop as the rapid passage of intestinal contents does not allow sufficient time for absorption.


Diarrhea results from changes in the mucosa of the small and large intestine. Diarrhea may be due to many causes. The more common causes areas follows:

Viral infections: A common term for infection of the bowels is infection flu caused by the influenza virus and Rota virus.

Bacterial infections: 50 percent of the cases are due to bacterial infections of the gut. Bacteria produce toxin in the gut eg., vibrio Cholera, shigella.

Food poisoning: Poor food hygiene and improperly handled food as a result of food being prepared with unwashed hands, food exposed to flies or cockroaches, or left at room temperature for a long time.

Allergy: Allergy and food intolerance to certain foods and medicines also cause diarrhea.


The common symptoms seen in diarrhea condition are as follows:

  • Inflamed intestine Or bowels.
  • Watery stools
  • Upset stomach or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite

If you have long term conditions that effect the digestive system. There are certain foods that you can eat to help your digestive system get back on normal situation. There are also certain foods that you should avoid.

Foods to be given

When you have diarrhea the foods that you eat and the foods that you avoid can be critical to helping you recover quicker. BRAT diet is given for diarrhea patient which stands for Bananas, Rice, Apple, Toast. These foods are bland. So they won’t aggravate the digestive system. They also help binding and firm up stool

Fluids: The loss of body fluids should be replaced by a liberal intake to prevent dehydration.

  • Water
  • Fruit juice
  • Vegetable soups
  • Rice kanji with salt
  • Fresh lemon with sugar or honey

Electrolytes: Losses of sodium potassium and other electrolytes cause weakness. Potassium is necessary for normal muscle tone of the gastrointestinal tract, anorexia, vomiting and weakness occur unless are replaced. Clear broths like chicken broth. Electrolyte enhanced water or coconut water with vitamins or electrolytes Solutions like pediapedialyte.

Fibres: A low residue diet, i.e. diet low in fibre is recommend. A non irritative diet consisting of:

  • Sago
  • Arrow root
  • Potato
  • Skimmed milk
  • Pectin from cooked apple helps in controlling diarrhea
  • Green leafy vegetables with a high residue should be restricted when diarrhea begins to lessen.

Foods to be avoid

When you’re experiencing diarrhea or recovering from it, there are a large number of foods that you want to avoid such as:

  • Fried foods and fibrous vegetables
  • Spicy foods
  • Pulses
  • Milk and dairy products (including milk based protein drinks)
  • Fatty and greasy foods
  • Processed foods especially those with additive foods
  • Pork and veal
  • Sardines and onions
  • Corn and all citrus fruits
  • Other fruits like pineapples, cherries, seeded berries, figs and grapes
  • Coffee, soda and other caffeinated or carbonated drinks
  • Artificial sweeteners including sorbitol


Many cases of diarrhea are short lived and respond well to home treatments such as a modified diet, heavy fluid intake and OTC medications. It contains anti diarrheal medications which can help stop or slow down the diarrhea. In some cases, diarrhea is caused by parasites or a bacterial infection and it may need to be treated with antibodies. Taking Probiotics as soon as possible after getting diarrhea can help prevent adverse reactions to antibiotics by introducing healthy bacteria back into the digestive system. This can also help prevent future cases of diarrhea. If the diarrhea is severe, you may need to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous fluids.


Any food exposed to flies and dust must be strictly avoided. When eating out avoid all uncooked foods, food touched by hands before serving or foods prepared under unhygienic condition. Food that is served hot as freshly made chapattis, toasted bread, idly and cooked vegetables, are safe to consume.

Cold foods served as meat, curd and butter milk are best options. Fresh fruits must be peeled by the consumer. Hot tea and water that has been boiled should be taken. Tender coconut water taken with a clean straw is the safest drink.


Diarrhea was common situation but when it persists for 2 weeks or longer that effects the digestive system. Mainly caused by unhygienic conditions or eating road side foods. So better to avoid those foods and maintain hygienic conditions at your surroundings. Avoid spicy and fatty foods. Prefer low fiber foods, bland diet and better to take probiotics.