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What is it?

  • Diarrhea means frequent loose bowel movements. You may also experience abdominal pain and cramping. Diarrhea can be caused by medications such as antibiotics, infections, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Why is it important to keep diarrhea under control?

  • If you have diarrhea for several days, your body loses a lot of fluids and needed chemicals. Rapid, severe fluid loss causes dehydration. Dehydration is a serious condition which requires immediate medical attention.

What to do:

  • Drink 8-12 glasses of water a day to make up for the loss of water.
  • The best liquids to drink are those clear in color, like apple juice, ginger ale, weak tea, broth, and Jell-O.
  • Let carbonated drinks lose their fizz before drinking.
  • Eat frequent, small meals
  • Eat low-fiber foods, like white bread, white rice or noodles, creamed cereals, ripe bananas, canned or cooked fruit without the skin, pureed vegetables, fish, chicken or turkey without the skin.
  • Avoid high-fiber foods, and milk products and foods difficult to digest such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, spicy foods and fried, greasy foods.
  • Eat bananas, potatoes, oranges and other potassium rich foods because diarrhea causes a loss of this mineral in the body. Potassium is needed for muscles to function properly. If you experience low-potassium symptoms such as an irregular heart beat or leg cramps, call your physician.
  • Keep track of the number of stools per day.

When to call your health care provider

  • If you develop diarrhea (more than 3 to 4 stools per day) call your physicians office to notify them. They will instruct you on medications to take.
  • You have blood or mucus in your bowel movements.
  • You are lightheaded or feel as if you are going to pass out.
  • You have a fever higher than 102.0 degrees F.