Diarrhea: Dealing Day-to-Day

8. Avoid certain artificial sweeteners.

Some products used as sugar substitutes, such as sorbitol and mannitol, are not absorbed into the bloodstream and remain in the intestines, leading to loose, watery stool. Avoiding the use of these artificial sweeteners can help to prevent or reduce the development of diarrhea.

If artificial sweeteners cannot be avoided entirely, your doctor may be able to help you to determine which of these sugar substitutes is responsible for your diarrhea. In some cases, you may be better able to absorb an alternative artificial sweetener.

9. Limit caffeine and alcohol.

Caffeine and alcohol stimulate the passage of stool, which can cause it to move too quickly through the intestines, disrupting normal fluid absorption and resulting in watery stool. Avoiding these substances can help to prevent diarrhea or reduce its severity, duration and frequency.

10. Understand lactose intolerance.

People who lack an enzyme called lactase are unable to digest milk products. The undigested lactose in the intestines causes an osmotic diarrhea, where excessive fluid is drawn into the intestines. If you are lactose intolerant, you can usually avoid products containing lactose. Lactose-free or reduced-lactose varieties are available for many kinds of dairy products, including milk. Lactase is also commercially available as a supplement, and Lactaid milk has lactase.

11. Avoid ingestion of toxins.

The inadvertent ingestion of environmental toxins, such as insecticides or arsenic, can lead to diarrhea. Eating poisonous mushrooms may also cause diarrhea. Diarrhea may be among the least of the symptoms of these toxins. It is best to avoid them whenever possible.

It is not always possible to avoid diarrhea completely. But, by addressing health issues and avoiding common diarrhea triggers, episodes of diarrhea can become less frequent and more manageable.

Reviewed by David Friedel, M.D., AGA

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