There are many reasons you might get diarrhoea the most commonly thought of is from food but other causes can be germs picked up through body contact, heat or even touching certain types of plants.
Try starving yourself for 24 hours or at least having a very basic diet of rice, bread and drinking black tea. Fruit and coffee which aggravate the stomach should be avoided.
Lomotil or Imodium can be used to bring relief from the symptoms, although they do not actually cure the problem. It is better to stay in one place and sit it out if possible rather than using these drugs.
If the symptoms persist for 48 hours then you should visit a doctor or chemist. Diarrhoea with blood or mucous (dysentery), any fever, watery diarrhoea with fever and lethargy, persistent diarrhoea not improving after 48 hours and severe diarrhoea might all be signs of dysentery.
Where this is not possible to visit a doctor the recommended drugs for dysentery are norfloxacin 400 mg twice daily for three days or ciprofloxacin 500 mg twice daily for five days. These are not recommended for pregnant women, Ampicillin or amoxycillin may be given, but medical care should be sort.
Amoebic dysentery symptoms may be less obvious there is less chance of stomach cramps, fever and vomiting. It will persist until treated and can recur and cause other health problems.
The main problem with diarrhoea is becoming dehydrated, particularly in children or the elderly as dehydration can occur quite quickly. Fluid replacement (at least equal to the volume being lost) is the most important thing to remember. Weak black tea with a little sugar, soda water, or soft drinks allowed to go flat and diluted 50% with clean water are all good. With severe diarrhoea a rehydrating solution is preferable to replace minerals and salts lost. In an emergency you can make up a solution of six teaspoons of sugar and a half-teaspoon of salt to a litre of boiled or bottled water. You need to drink at least the same volume of fluid that you are losing. The colour of urine is a good indicator if it is dark then you need to drink more.
© K.Vans-Colina 1992-2002