Remedies for upset stomach and diarrhea
By Nancy Kupka, PhD, RN Apr 13, 2021 • 4 min
Having an upset stomach or diarrhea can make you feel miserable.
While these symptoms are unpleasant, in many cases they aren’t serious and resolve on their own. Learn how to avoid and ease these common digestive issues.
Dyspepsia is the medical term for indigestion or upset stomach. It causes multiple types of symptoms or complaints, including nausea, stomach pain, stomach ache or stomach burning between your belly button and upper belly during or after eating.
To reduce your chance of an upset stomach, eat more slowly, eat smaller amounts of food at a time, and avoid high-fat, greasy or spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine. Not smoking and reducing stress can also help prevent indigestion. If your stomach is already upset, following the BRAT diet can help you feel better. The BRAT diet involves limiting your food intake to bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of clear soft drinks or chamomile or peppermint teas can also frequently quell an upset stomach.
See your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Stomach upset that lasts more than two weeks
- Symptoms that suddenly get worse or happen more frequently
- Blood in your stool or vomit
- Sudden, unexpected weight loss
- Severe stomach pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
Diarrhea is defined as passing loose or watery stools at least three times in 24 hours. In most cases, diarrhea occurs due to infections and treatment isn’t needed. Though it’s uncommon, when severe diarrhea is left unchecked, it can result in hospitalization or even death.
Changing your diet can help get you through a bout of diarrhea or stomach cramps. Avoid eating:
- Fried and greasy foods
- Gas-producing fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, peppers, beans, peas, berries, prunes, chickpeas, green leafy vegetables and corn
- Caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks
- Dairy products if they make diarrhea worse or cause gas or bloating
The BRAT diet can also help relieve diarrhea. Over-the-counter medications, such as Loperamide (Imodium), are available as well. Probiotics may also help. Probiotics contain bacteria similar to the naturally occurring beneficial bacteria in the human gut. They are effective for antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children and adults. However, if you have a compromised immune system, talk to your healthcare provider first before taking probiotics.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Diarrhea that worsens or does not get better in two days for infants and children, or five days for adults
- Severe stomach pain or repeated vomiting
- Blood or mucus in your stool
- A temperature of 101.3ºF or higher
In most cases, an upset stomach or diarrhea will get better on its own. But if either symptom persists or becomes severe, contact your healthcare provider. They may recommend treatment for the underlying cause of the problem or suggest ways to help you stay hydrated and comfortable.
Published April 2021.