Diarrhea occurs when stools are pushed through the intestines before the water in them can be absorbed into the body. This causes more frequents, looser stools, sometimes with abdominal cramping. There are many causes of diarrhea, the most common of which includes infections from viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Certain medications, such as antibiotics and laxatives, can also cause diarrhea.
- Drink small, frequent sips of water, Sprite, PowerAid, GatorAid etc.
- Avoid dehydration.
- Avoid eating until you feel better and the frequency of the stools has decreased. Then, begin with mild foods such as toast, dry crackers, rice, and applesauce, chicken noodle soup or jello.
- Use anti-diarrheal drugs such as Pepto-Bismol* only if there are no other signs of illness, such as fever, chills, or bloody stools.
- Imodium AD may be used if you have had at least three watery stools.
Seek medical attention if:
- You have severe diarrhea (large stools every hour, or more then ten stools a day)
- Your diarrhea lasts longer than a week
- Your stools are bloody or black
- You have diarrhea with fever
- You develop severe abdominal pain or signs of dehydration
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often to decrease the spread of organisms that may lead to diarrhea.
- Avoid emotional stress and anxiety, which can cause loose stools.
- Avoid drinking untreated water, which may contain organisms that cause diarrhea. This is especially important when you visit foreign countries or go camping.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners, such as sorbital, or fat substitutes, such as olestra.
- Ask your physician if any medications you are taking may be causing your loose stools.
* A generic form of this can be found in your dorm office. Take as directed on back of the packets.