Diarrhea

Tests and Treatment

Testing for diarrhea

Often diagnosis is based on questions your doctor asks about your eating habits, recent use of medications, recent travel experiences and physical examination.

  • Stool cultures can be analyzed in a laboratory to check for bacteria, parasites, or other signs of disease and infection.
  • Blood tests help rule out certain diseases.
  • Allergy tests and determining food intolerances: Often times, diarrhea is caused due to an intolerance or allergy to certain types of foods. Talk to your doctor about working on an elimination diet to determine of the things you are eating are causing your diarrhea. Things like lactose, wheat, and carbohydrates are often the culprits.

Treating diarrhea

In most cases of diarrhea, replacing lost fluid to prevent dehydration is the only treatment necessary.

Fluid and electrolytes that help our bodies function are lost when we have diarrhea. These need to be replaced quickly. Water does not contain electrolytes. Broth and soups that contain sodium, and fruit juices, soft fruits, or vegetables that contain potassium, help restore electrolyte levels. Over-the-counter rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte, Ceralyte, and Infalyte are also good electrolyte sources, especially for children.

Medications

Medicines that stop diarrhea may be helpful, but they are unlikely to resolve the problem if your diarrhea is caused by a bacterial infection or parasite. In these cases, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. If a viral infection is the cause of your diarrhea, you may or may not be treated with medication depending on the severity of the infection and type of virus.

Tests and Treatment

Testing for diarrhea

Often diagnosis is based on questions your doctor asks about your eating habits, recent use of medications, recent travel experiences and physical examination.

  • Stool cultures can be analyzed in a laboratory to check for bacteria, parasites, or other signs of disease and infection.
  • Blood tests help rule out certain diseases.
  • Allergy tests and determining food intolerances: Often times, diarrhea is caused due to an intolerance or allergy to certain types of foods. Talk to your doctor about working on an elimination diet to determine of the things you are eating are causing your diarrhea. Things like lactose, wheat, and carbohydrates are often the culprits.

Treating diarrhea

In most cases of diarrhea, replacing lost fluid to prevent dehydration is the only treatment necessary.

Fluid and electrolytes that help our bodies function are lost when we have diarrhea. These need to be replaced quickly. Water does not contain electrolytes. Broth and soups that contain sodium, and fruit juices, soft fruits, or vegetables that contain potassium, help restore electrolyte levels. Over-the-counter rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte, Ceralyte, and Infalyte are also good electrolyte sources, especially for children.

Medications

Medicines that stop diarrhea may be helpful, but they are unlikely to resolve the problem if your diarrhea is caused by a bacterial infection or parasite. In these cases, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. If a viral infection is the cause of your diarrhea, you may or may not be treated with medication depending on the severity of the infection and type of virus.

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