Diarrhea in the Elderly — How to Relieve Symptoms

Learn the three ways you can reduce some of the not-so-pretty side effects of diarrhea.

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Diarrhea can happen at any age, but it can be particularly worrisome for those who are more vulnerable, like young children and the elderly. Thankfully, the most common causes of and ways to relieve diarrhea are the same regardless of age. Read on to find out how to relieve diarrhea.

Common Causes of Diarrhea in the Elderly

Diarrhea can be caused by a range of different factors including allergies or intolerance to certain foods, a reaction to medication, or an unwanted microorganism in the gut. Seniors who are on medications may have a higher chance of suffering from diarrhea, so if you feel that a medication could be the cause, consult with your doctor. Now, let’s look at how to relieve symptoms.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration should be top priority for seniors (and anyone else) when dealing with diarrhea. Dehydration from diarrhea can be potentially fatal in older adults and children, so drink plenty of water, coconut water (no sugar added), broths, and electrolyte solutions. Drinking consistently in small amounts may be easier on upset stomachs. On the flip side, avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee, alcohol, and soda while experiencing diarrhea.

Choose Your Foods Wisely

Stay away from foods that are high in fat, insoluble fiber, or spices as these can be hard on your digestive system. Instead, stick to foods that are nourishing and easy to digest, like bananas, unsweetened applesauce, and broth-based soups and stews.

Have the Right Tools On Hand

Since you can’t always prevent diarrhea, it’s important to have some relief on hand. Over-the-counter diarrhea relief products are easy to obtain and useful to keep with you in an emergency. It may also be helpful to keep a small fiber-packed snack with you so you can eat food that is safe and won’t make you any sicker. Diarrhea in the elderly should be taken seriously. Since dehydration can be dangerous, the Mayo Clinic urges you to seek medical attention if diarrhea lasts more than two days without improvement, stools appear black or bloody, there are symptoms of excessive thirst, severe weakness, little to no urination, or a fever of more than 102 degrees.