Medical Minute: Treating Diarrhea

Medical Minute: Treating Diarrhea


Hi, I’m Rekha Nair. I’m one of the Internists with the Reliant Medical Group at the Millbury site. Today, I’m going to talk to
you about diarrhea, which causes significant morbidity and mortality
worldwide. It is estimated that each year the US adults experience 9 million
episodes of acute diarrhea, and that ends up in 8 million physician visits, and
more than 200,000 hospital admissions. So, what can we do to manage this diarrhea?
Most diarrheas are self-limiting and they resolve within 48 to 72 hours. The
mainstay of diarrheal treatment is fluid and electrolyte replenishment to prevent
dehydration, certain dietary modification, and medication management for
symptomatic treatment. The oral rehydration solution that we use should
contain water, salt, and sugar, so at home, you can use Gatorade, diluted fruit
juices, flavored soft drinks with some saltine crackers or soups and broths,
which meets the fluid and salt requirement of the less severely ill
patients. The patients can also have frequent feedings of easily digestible
food, such as bananas, rice, applesauce or toast, which is the BRAT diet. And they
can also have boiled potatoes or noodles. The imodium or loperamide can be used
for the symptomatic treatment. However, this medication should be avoided if the
diarrhea is accompanied by fever or blood in stool, because it may warrant a
more serious condition. Probiotics are another alternative for
the treatment of diarrhea. Diarrhea and it’s complications
cause a lot of serious illness in high-risk groups. Hand-washing is
extremely important for its prevention. Soap and water is much more effective
than the alcohol-based hand sanitizers, because these sanitizers don’t kill many
of the viruses. When do you see your doctor? If you are 70 years of age or
older, if your immunity is compromised, or if your diarrhea lasts more than three
days, is accompanied by fever, chills severe abdominal pain, blood in stool,
dizziness, or there is an inability to urinate, please call your doctor.

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