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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Treatment

When symptoms start, try to rest more and switch to a diet of clear liquids. Drink water, juice, bouillon and weak tea to avoid becoming dehydrated. Replace lost fluids and electrolytes with sports drinks. Avoid coffee or soft drinks that contain caffeine, since caffeine increases the loss of water and salt. If you have nausea in addition to diarrhea, take very small sips of fluid frequently and suck on ice chips.

As you begin to feel better, start eating solid foods gradually to prevent stomach cramps. Start with soft, starchy foods (cooked cereal, steamed rice, unbuttered toast, and applesauce) before returning to your normal diet. To ease stomach cramps, apply warmth (a hot water bottle, warm compress or electric heating pad set on low heat) to your abdomen. You also may consider over-the-counter medications such as bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) or loperamide (Imodium).

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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