Diarrhea can be treated by avoiding dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids, preferably an oral rehydration solution (ORS) that can easily be mixed at home. While diarrhea usually resolves itself on its own in a few days, it will be best to keep the patient hydrated while the diarrhea runs its course as the increased frequency of bowel movements may lead to dehydration and other complications. It is vitally important, however, to treat diarrhea as an emergency situation if the patient is experiencing severe abdominal pain, vomiting or is very dehydrated.
While most fluids will help in keeping the patient hydrated while suffering from diarrhea, there are certain liquid drinks that should be avoided. These fluids include alcohol-based drinks and beverages with caffeine and milk, as these drinks are likely to make the diarrhea worse.
A homemade oral rehydration solution is one of the most affordable ways to treat and manage diarrhea. To make an oral rehydration solution, mix 6 level teaspoons of sugar with a half level teaspoon of salt in a liter of water. The portions of this mixture should be exact, as adding too much of the sugar or the salt will be harmful for the patient, according to Rehydrate.org.
While drinking ORS frequently will help stave off dehydration, it will not be much help if the diarrhea qualifies as an emergency situation. Apart from those already mentioned, call for immediate emergency help for the following cases:
- The patient is below 3 months old and is vomiting
- It is suspected that the patient contracted diarrhea from drinking contaminated water
- The stool has blood, mucus or is black
- The patient also has fever
- The patient is losing more fluid than he can replace by drinking