Diarrhoea (frequent loose watery output) can be caused by several factors, including illness, stress, diet and some medications. If you develop diarrhoea that you think is caused by illness, a tummy upset or food poisoning or if it is very severe or persists for more than two days it is important to seek medical advice from your GP. Some type 2 diabetics who take metformin may find that this medication causes diarrhoea: if this becomes a problem inform your GP or diabetic nurse. Some antibiotics can also cause diarrhoea.
Some individuals find that stress, especially if it is severe and ongoing causes major problems with diarrhoea and pain. Medication may be needed to slow down bowel movement. Stress management and relaxation techniques may also be helpful in managing stress and in minimising bowel effects.
If you think the diarrhoea is due to a change of food, water or daily routine some of the following tips may help.
- Reduce the amount of high fibre foods in your diet e.g. beans and lentils, fruit and green vegetables
- Avoid spicy food particularly containing chilli powder and very fatty foods
- Keep coffee, fruit juices and alcohol to a minimum as these can increase output
- Alcohol is also very dehydrating so avoid if you have diarrhoea
- Include plain starchy foods such as rice, pasta, white bread, porridge and bananas
- You can also try eating starchy marshmallows or jelly babies (approx 200g)
Remember to drink plenty of fluids even if your appetite is poor. This is particularly important if you have an ileostomy in which case it is also important to increase your intake of salt to prevent dehydration. If you are unable to tolerate meals try taking salt in the form of meat extract drinks such as Oxo or Bovril and eat dry savoury crackers. In emergencies crisps and a bottle of lucozade can be used. If increasing your fluid intake further increases your stoma output seek medical advice.
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