How to Get Rid of Diarrhea: 7 Home Remedies That Work

By Robynn Lowe
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
August 5, 2022

Diarrhea can be extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing, striking unpredictably and at the worst times. 

While most causes of watery stools may improve on their own, some home remedies can provide relief fast.

In this article, we’ll discuss over-the-counter (OTC) medications and natural treatments for diarrhea.

We’ll also cover common causes and when to seek medical care.

OTC Treatment

In most cases, diarrhea resolves on its own without treatment. 

Still, the following OTC medications can help alleviate symptoms and relieve diarrhea sooner:

  • Bismuth subsalicylate: Sold as Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol, and store brand generics, this medication stabilizes how fluids move through the digestive tract. It can quickly stop diarrhea.
  • Loperamide: Available under the brand name Imodium and store brand generics, this medication slows down how quickly things travel through the digestive system, which lets the body absorb more fluids. This can have a quick effect on loose stools.

Having diarrhea? Chat with a provider using K Health.

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Natural Treatments

In addition to or instead of over-the-counter medicines, there are several natural treatments for diarrhea.

Fluids

While diarrhea may seem like it occurs because of an excess of fluids, it actually can have a dehydrating effect on the body.

So when you have diarrhea, drink 8-10 glasses of clear fluids such as water, herbal tea, and some juices daily. 

Avoid carbonated drinks, coffee, alcohol, and prune juice since these can irritate the intestines.

BRAT diet

The BRAT diet is used to soothe an irritated GI tract. 

It may also help address causes of diarrhea. 

BRAT stands for:

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

The blandness of the foods helps ease symptoms like nausea, while the starchy, low-fiber nature of the foods helps absorb fluids without further aggravating the intestines. 

Other foods that work on a BRAT-type diet include clear soup broth, plain soup noodles, saltine crackers, and plain potatoes (not chips or French fries, which are greasy).

Probiotics

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that colonize the large intestine. 

At times, the gut microbiome can become unbalanced due to bacterial infection, antibiotics, or other related problems.

Taking probiotic supplements or eating foods that contain probiotics might support intestinal health and decrease the length of diarrhea episodes. 

The probiotic strains that may be helpful for diarrhea are:

Although fermented foods like miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kefir contain probiotics, they may be harder to digest than a probiotic supplement when you have diarrhea.

Cut back on dairy products

Dairy products have beneficial nutrients, but they can also irritate the gastrointestinal lining. 

This is especially true for people who have lactose intolerance

Avoid milk, ice cream, cheese, and other dairy products until diarrhea resolves.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Alcohol and coffee are stimulants and can worsen diarrhea by increasing a laxative effect. 

Instead, drink plenty of water and clear fluids like herbal tea, clear broth, or apple juice when you have diarrhea.

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a popular remedy for nausea and may also be soothing for diarrhea because it has a calming effect on the gastrointestinal system.

What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea occurs when bowel movements become too loose or watery and happen at a rapid frequency. 

Diarrhea is very common and almost always resolves on its own. 

It is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, intestinal cramping, bloating, and urgency.

Common Causes of Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be caused by many different things, including:

  • Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) or other viral infections
  • Bacterial infections (food poisoning or food-borne illness)
  • Parasite infections from drinking contaminated water
  • Antibiotics
  • Chemotherapy drugs and other cancer treatments
  • Food allergy
  • Food intolerance or sensitivity
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Sugar alcohols
  • Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (types of inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Celiac disease

Having diarrhea? Chat with a provider using K Health.

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When to See a Medical Provider

See a qualified healthcare provider if you:

  • Have diarrhea for more than 3 days
  • Show signs of dehydration
  • Can’t keep fluids down
  • Can’t urinate
  • Feel dizzy or lightheaded
  • Develop a fever above 102º F (38.9º C)
  • Have severe abdominal cramping or pain
  • Have bloody or tarry black stools

How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?

Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a healthcare provider in minutes. 

K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What stops diarrhea fast?
Diarrhea can be stopped quickly with OTC medicines such as loperamide (Imodium) and Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate).
How long does diarrhea take to go away?
Without treatment, most diarrhea resolves on its own within a few days. Adults should see a medical provider if diarrhea does not resolve completely in two days. Children should see a medical provider if diarrhea lasts for more than 24 hours.
Is it better to stop diarrhea or let it go?
For adults, mild diarrhea that lasts for two days or less and does not cause signs of dehydration can run its course. If diarrhea becomes severe, interferes with everyday activities, or leads to signs of dehydration, consult a medical provider. Children should see a healthcare provider if diarrhea does not resolve within 24 hours, while infants who get diarrhea should see a medical provider right away.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Robynn Lowe

Robynn Lowe is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 15 years in the medical field. Robynn received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Florida Atlantic University and has been practicing in rural family medicine since. Robynn is married to her college sweetheart, Raymond and they have three awesome children. When Robynn isn't with patients you can find her shopping, coaching her kids sports teams, or spending time on the water.