What is Diarrhea?
Diarrhea, sometimes written as Diarrhoea, is when a person has more frequent, watery, and loose bowel movements. Luckily, diarrhea, unlike other diseases, lasts no longer than a couple days. If diarrhea occurs for a week, it’s likely because the Agni (aka the digestive fire) has become weak. Ayurveda aims to strengthen Agni and calm whatever dosha (generally pitta) is aggravated.
What are the Symptoms of Diarrhea?
- Stomach cramps and pain
- Stools with blood
- Loose, watery stools
- Sudden desire for bowel movement
- Mucus in the stool
What are the Causes of Diarrhea?
- Viruses: Many viruses cause diarrhea, such as viral Hepatitis, Cytomegalovirus, and Norwalk virus. Children commonly catch Rotavirus, which then leads to diarrhea. Also, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) includes diarrhea as one of the symptoms.
- Parasites and Bacteria: Food or water that is contaminated can bring parasites or bacteria to you. When considering traveling and from developing countries, many tourists may get sick because developing countries often have new bacteria in their food that tend to give the traveler diarrhea. This is commonly called “traveler’s diarrhea.” Diarrhea occurs when bacteria, viruses, parasitic organisms such as Campylobacter, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, Clostridium difficile colitis, and Shigella enter the body.
- Medications: Medications like antibiotics, cancer drugs, and antacids may lead to diarrhea. If this is one of the possible side-effects of consuming the medicine, do not be alarmed. However, if diarrhea is not a side effect, contact your doctor immediately.
Lactose Intolerance: For those that are Lactose Intolerant or commonly have diarrhea after consuming dairy-rich products like milk, ice cream, and butter, avoid consuming those products because the enzyme helps to break down lactose drops after childhood.
- Fructose: Commonly found in honey, fruits, and sweeteners, some people may struggle to digest fructose, which may lead to diarrhea.
- Surgery: Gallbladder removal or abdominal surgeries can occasionally cause diarrhea.
- Other digestive disorders: Chronic diarrhea can be caused by irritable bowel syndrome, microscopic colitis, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
When to see a Doctor?
For Adults: If there is no severe illness, diarrhea is usually relatively easy to control. However, this condition can also be a symptom of a more serious illness if these home remedies don’t work in 2 or 3 days. Call your doctor if you notice one of the following symptoms occur:
- Diarrhea persists beyond a few days
- Abdominal or rectal pain
- Bloody or black stools
- Fever above Fever above 102°F
For child: Contact your child’s doctor if their diarrhea doesn’t improve in a day or if the child has the following symptoms:
- Fever above 102°F
- Black or bloody stools
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Diarrhea
- Apple A Day: Often, babies’ experiences can be cured by feeding them cooked apples. By removing the seeds and the skin and cooking the apple in ½ teaspoon ghee, a pinch of cardamom, and a small pinch of ginger. Stir it and cool.
- Avoid Dehydration: Diarrhea often causes dehydration. Add one (1) teaspoon of natural sugar, 1 teaspoon of lime juice, and a pinch of salt to a pint of room-temperature clean water, and sip throughout the day.
- Fully cook all foods: Ensure that all foods are fully cooked so that there are no unwanted bacteria remaining.
- Obtain Hepatitis A and Typhoid Vaccinations: Ensure that you are up-to-date on all of your vaccinations. This will significantly reduce your risk of getting sick to bacteria.
- Pacify Pitta: Reduce pitta in your diet by avoiding spicy or fermented foods.
- Wash hands frequently: Lather hands with soap and wash for at least 20 seconds with hot water. When washing isn’t possible, use hand sanitizer.
- When Traveling: While traveling to developing countries, watch what you eat, drink, check travel warnings, and ask a doctor for antibiotics if necessary.
Common Ayurvedic Remedies for Diarrhea
- Try ½ teaspoon ginger powder with one (1) teaspoon raw natural sugar. Mix together, and chew the mixture with some warm water. Take 2 or 3 times a day for 2 to 3 days.
- For acute diarrhea, mix ½ teaspoon of fennel powder with ½ teaspoon of ginger powder, and chew this mixture 2 or 3 times a day.
- Try drinking a cup of hot black coffee with 10 drops of lime juice and a pinch of cardamom or nutmeg.