Dietary Guidelines to Treat Diarrhea
(Diarrhea can be one of the symptoms of Covid-19)

The first thing to understand about treating diarrhea is that you must consult a doctor. There are different types of organisms which cause diarrhea, and they just don't go away by drinking lots of tender coconut water or lemon tea. They have to be treated with medications or they only grow in the stomach and intestine and later have to be treated with much stronger medication and for a longer duration.

Here are some food do's and don'ts. Try to avoid milk as far as possible for at least 48 hours. If your child wants only milk, dilute its strength with clean boiled and cooled water. Light tea may also be good. Ideal is to give milk only in the forms of curds or buttermilk for two days. If the child can drink buttermilk replace each milk feed with a glass of buttermilk or lassi. For breakfast, give bread toast or idli dipped in curd. Salt and sugar may be added to the curd. Avoid rasam and dal at lunch and give only curd rice for lunch and dinner.

The reason for avoiding milk is, it is an ideal medium for bacteria and other organisms to grow on and the infection inside will increase instead of being controlled and destroyed. On the other hand, curds has bacteria which can fight the organisms causing the infection. Therefore, for diarrhoea, curd is a form of natural treatment.

However we have to be very careful to ensure that the curd is at room temperature. The cold curd or buttermilk could cause a throat infection. We would advise that buttermilk may be made with lukewarm water and the curd to be mixed in hot rice.

Please avoid eating non-veg completely for atleast 48-72 hours. Non-veg food again is the ideal medium for organisms to grow and you will only see the infection increase rapidly if non-veg is eaten.

Also other food stuffs e.g. arrowroot, apple, tender coconut water, etc., cannot kill the viruses or bacteria so they cannot be used as a treatment. However arrowroot porridge, arrowroot biscuits, apple and tender coconut water are soothing to the stomach and help to bind the stool so they help in reducing the frequency of passing motion. They also help to replace calories, minerals and vitamins, which are lost during diarrhea.

Apart from toast, rice and curds, Marie or arrow root biscuits, rusks, apple, black tea with little lime juice and sugar, rice kanji with salt and curds and arrow root porridge and tender coconut water are ideal to be consumed in the first 2-3 days. B complex and C vitamin supplement is very important during diarrhea. Take a capsule or syrup form of this morning and evening.

The biggest danger faced in a diarrhea is dehydration and blood sugar levels dropping. During acute diarrhea, the danger of dehydration is so great that one should not wait but immediately start treatment to replace fluids and electrolytes. Electrol available from a pharmacy may be prepared with boiled and cooled water or oral rehydration may be prepared at home by mixing one glass (200ml) clean water with 2 teaspoons sugar, a pinch (quarter teaspoon) salt and 1-2 teaspoon lemon juice. Pour small portions of this into a separate glass and allow the child to sip this at frequent intervals.

Hereto Luke warm water may be used for mixing the electral powder. Also now ready to drink ORS (oral rehydration solution) are available in tetra pack in different flavours( apple orange etc., ) which many people are ready to consume happily.

A lot of patience is required while looking after and feeding children or individuals with diarrhea as they may keep refusing to eat. This is very dangerous as they lose a lot of vitamins and minerals and get weak and exhausted at this time. Frequent attempts must be made to feed them otherwise they may become so weak that they require hospitalization and glucose intravenously. The other danger is that if too weak they will immediately pick up a cough, cold, fever infection and get weaker.

We have seen that some patients with Covid-19 infection have loose motion as a symptom. The above guidelines may be followed along with consultation with your doctor.

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