Treatment of diarrhoea is a significant component of the areas of care for every gastroenterologist. Given that it is common for individuals to experience this condition from time to time, understanding the treatment options for diarrhoea is practically useful.
Apart from medical treatment including prescriptions, there are many lifestyle changes individuals can undertake to alleviate their symptoms.
This blog post looks at the treatment options that may be recommended for patients with this condition. It must be noted that if a patient experiences chronic or acute diarrhoea or are experiencing rectal bleeding and other serious symptoms, they must seek urgent medical review.
Before treatment, the cause of diarrhoea may need to be confirmed. In order to do so, a variety of tools and methods may be used. These include:
For patients with diarrhoea, a blood count test can help potentially identify what’s causing this condition.
A stool test may be used to determine whether a particular bacterium or parasite is the cause of diarrhoea.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy
Here, a thin, lighted tube is inserted into a patient’s rectum, for examination of the colon. This device is also equipped with a tool that allows samples of tissue to be extracted from the colon.
Sigmoidoscopy provides a view of the lower colon, whereas a colonoscopy offers a view of the entire colon.
While this condition generally resolves itself after a few days, medication and lifestyle changes may be required if symptoms persist. These treatments include:
Antibiotics and over-the-counter medication
While antibiotics are commonly used for treatment, these may only be effective if this condition isn’t caused by an infection.
Other treatment options include anti-diarrhoea medication such as loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate, which are over-the-counter solutions, may reduce watery bowel movements and control some of the more serious symptoms of this condition.
Hydration or fluid replacement
Hydration is recommended for patients with acute diarrhoea. This will replenish fluids and salt through increased hydration or fluid replacement.
For patients who are unable to tolerate oral hydration, IV fluids may be the next course of action. While drinking water is a good way to stay hydrated, it does not contain essential salts and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. This can be rectified by drinking fruit juice (patients will need to avoid certain juices like apple juice) soup, and electrolyte filled fluids.
Apart from medication, patients may be asked to make certain healthy lifestyle changes.
Among these, drinking plenty of clear liquid including water, broths, and juices areone of the most important given that acute diarrhoea can lead to dehydration in patients. In this process, individuals will need to refrain from coffee and alcohol as these can exacerbate this condition.
Patients may also be asked to add semisolid and low-fibre food while their bowel movements return to normal. Crackers, toast, eggs, rice or chicken are a few recommended options. In this process, dairy-based items, fatty food, seasoned food, and high-fibre food items should be avoided until symptoms clear up.
Another common recommendation for patients with diarrhoea is the increased intake of probiotics. These are good and beneficial bacteria that restore a healthy balance to the GI tract. This can be ingested in the form of yoghurt, capsules or in liquid form.
Patients need to receive treatment for diarrhoea from medical experts
Treatment of diarrhoea needs to be sought from medical experts. Consulting a trusted gastroenterology specialist could be particularly useful, in this regard.
Before patients make any drastic changes to their lifestyle or if they are already being treated for other conditions, it’s best to receive medical advice before undertaking diarrhoea treatment.