How to Stop Diarrhea Fast

Home remedies and medications offer quick relief

Bland, starchy, low-fiber foods like those included in the BRAT diet (bananas, bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) are binding, which can bulk stool and help you get rid of diarrhea fast. You can also try probiotics, glutamine supplements, or home remedies like herbal teas and rice water.

There are also over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications that can help stop diarrhea quickly.

Keep in mind, though, that diarrhea caused by a virus or bacteria usually goes away on its own in two to three days.

This article reviews what to eat and drink (as well as avoid) to help get rid of diarrhea. It also discusses what medications and home remedies may help stop diarrhea.

Young woman with a glass of water

Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa / Getty Images

Foods That Help Stop Diarrhea

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases doesn't recommend following a restrictive diet to treat diarrhea. But that doesn't mean all foods are equal in your situation.

Bland, low-fiber, and fermented foods are best.

The BRAT Diet

Adults may try the BRAT diet to help stop diarrhea naturally.

The diet is made up of four bland, low-fiber foods:

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

These foods can help your stool become firmer. They are also helpful if you are vomiting because their mild odor isn't likely to trigger nausea. Bananas are particularly helpful because they can also restore the potassium lost through all of those bowel movements.

The BRAT diet is extremely restrictive and may not provide adequate nutrition. For this reason, it's no longer recommended for children.

Adults should only follow the BRAT diet for a short period of time, adding in additional bland but nutritious foods as symptoms improve.

Bland Diet

Adults can add other bland, easy-to-digest foods as diarrhea symptoms start to get better. This includes:

  • Baked, skinless chicken breasts
  • Plain cereal
  • Baked potatoes
  • Chicken soup with saltines

Children with mild diarrhea who aren't vomiting can continue eating their normal diet. If your child begins vomiting and their diarrhea becomes more severe, it's best to reach out to their healthcare provider.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are a natural source of probiotics. These good bacteria can quickly replace those naturally found in your gut that are lost because of diarrhea, helping restore normal bowel function.

Some of these foods include:

  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Aged soft cheeses
  • Cottage cheese
  • Green olives
  • Sourdough bread
  • Tempeh

Kimchi is another popular fermented food, but it has spices that might make your diarrhea worse.

It may be best to avoid some dairy products during diarrhea, but not all. Certain dairy foods with live probiotic bacteria, like yogurt or kefir—both of which are also fermented—are extremely beneficial.

Foods to Avoid

Certain foods can make diarrhea worse. Don't eat or drink foods or beverages that cause gas, such as:

  • Fried and other fatty or greasy foods
  • High-fiber grain products, such as bran, whole grains, and brown rice
  • Carbonated drinks, like sodas or seltzer
  • Cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Beans and legumes
  • Bell peppers
  • Corn
  • Berries
  • Prunes
  • Foods sweetened with sorbitol

Drinks to Ease Diarrhea

One of the biggest problems with diarrhea is dehydration. Loose stools can deplete your stores of water and electrolytes, minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. This affects the body's ability to function normally, which can have serious consequences—especially in young children.

To manage a mild bout of diarrhea, you need to replace the fluids and electrolytes you have lost. 

Clear Fluids and Milk

Adults should drink plenty of water, clear juices, or clear broths.

Children, toddlers, and babies with mild diarrhea who aren't vomiting can continue drinking what they normally do, whether that is breast milk, cow's milk, or formula.

Rehydration Drinks

Adults can consume drinks containing electrolytes. Young children may drink pediatric rehydration drinks if they have mild diarrhea and are also vomiting. These are marketed under certain brand names, like:

  • Pedialyte
  • Enfalyte
  • Gastrolyte

Some people want to avoid the artificial colorings or flavorings in some rehydration drinks. You can make a homemade rehydration drink (for adult use only) with only salt, sugar, and water.

You can also buy oral rehydration salts over the counter at most drugstores. Follow the preparation instructions as written.

Other Drinks

Some specific types of drinks have been used as home remedies for diarrhea. These include rice water and certain herbal teas.

Rice Water

This diarrhea remedy is often recommended for babies but may also help adults. In addition to providing nutrients, the slightly starchy solution is binding.

Research shows rice water helps reduce the frequency of loose stools better than electrolyte solutions.

To make rice water:

  • Combine 1 to 2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of white or brown rice (do not use the instant type).
  • Boil for 10 minutes or until the water looks cloudy.
  • Drain, saving the water, and let cool.

Rice water can be consumed 1 cup at a time two to three times a day.

Herbal Teas

The following herbal teas may be helpful, whether hot or iced:

  • Chamomile tea: Chamomile may help relieve upset stomach and diarrhea when combined with other herbs such as star anise, but research into this is limited. 
  • Green tea: Green tea has been shown to reduce the incidence of diarrhea in people receiving radiotherapy for cancer.
  • Lemongrass tea: Some small, older studies have found that the stalk and leaf of lemongrass, when boiled to make tea, may help relieve diarrhea. 

Drinks to Avoid

When you want to stop an episode of diarrhea fast, it's best to avoid the following beverages, which have a laxative effect:

  • Coffee
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Prune juice
  • Sugary drinks
  • Sodas
  • Alcohol

It's also a good idea to avoid dairy products if you're lactose intolerant.

Medications to Stop Diarrhea Fast

Over-the-counter medications that can help stop diarrhea at home include:

  • Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate (bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Immodium (loperamide), meant for frequent or severe diarrhea rather than an occasional episode

In cases of severe diarrhea, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication that can help treat the cause of your diarrhea, such as an:

  • Antibiotic
  • Antiparasitic, if diarrhea is caused by an infection

Supplements That May Help Diarrhea

The live bacteria and yeast contained in fermented foods are also available in probiotic supplements. Probiotics might help naturally shorten a mild bout of diarrhea.

Some helpful probiotics include:

  • Lactobacillus bacteria
  • Bifidobacterium bacteria
  • Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii) yeast, which has particularly powerful antidiarrheal effects

Side effects of probiotics, whether in food or supplement form, tend to be mild and may include an upset stomach, bloating, and gas.

Other Supplements

Some other supplements have also been touted as diarrhea remedies, though research is limited. In addition, they are not safe for everyone. Speak to your healthcare provider before trying any of these or other supplements: 

  • Glutamine: Glutamine is an important amino acid that your body uses to make proteins. Some research suggests that glutamine supplementation may help patients who experience diarrhea after a gastrointestinal infection.
  • Agrimony: This herb is sometimes recommended to treat diarrhea. It can also affect your blood pressure and may thin the blood, so speak to your healthcare provider before you try this remedy.
  • Barberry, Oregon grape, and goldenseal contain berberine, which may help diarrhea caused by a virus or bacteria. Avoid taking these remedies if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Bilberry extract: This herbal remedy can also thin the blood and may have interactions with medications used to treat diabetes.
  • Blackberry or raspberry leaf: These are said to help "dry" the mucous membranes in your intestines. Avoid using these remedies if you are pregnant.

When to Seek Medical Help

You should never ignore diarrhea. If you have loose stools for more than two days, call your doctor or your pharmacist.

On the other hand, you should seek emergency care right away if you or your child have persistent or severe diarrhea, or show signs of dehydration such as those listed below.

Babies under 3 months old with diarrhea should always be taken to a doctor or emergency room right away. Don't wait or try to treat the condition at home.

Signs of Dehydration in Adults
  • Diarrhea for three days or more

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Black, tarry stools

  • Fever over 102 degrees F

  • Little or no urination

  • Extreme weakness

  • Dry skin and mouth

  • Excessive thirst

  • Dark urine

  • Blood or pus in the stool

Signs of Dehydration in Children
  • Diarrhea for more than 24 hours

  • No wet diapers in three hours

  • Fever over 102 degrees F, or over 100.4 for babies 3 months or younger

  • Dry mouth or tongue

  • Crying without tears

  • Unusual sleepiness

  • Black, tarry stools

  • Sunken cheeks or eyes

  • Skin that doesn't retract when pinched

  • Blood or pus in the stool

  • Severe abdominal pain


To treat diarrhea and feel better faster, try eating only bland foods temporarily, staying hydrated, and incorporating probiotic-rich foods or supplements. Over-the-counter medications can also help.

Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider if your diarrhea doesn't go away within two days.

If you have symptoms like severe abdominal pain, blood in your stool, or signs of dehydration, seek emergency care at once. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What foods should I eat if I have diarrhea?

    Bland, low-fiber foods are the best choice. Some low-fiber foods include potatoes, white rice, bananas, apples, fish, and chicken or turkey without the skin. Changing your diet and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration can help treat diarrhea symptoms faster.

  • Why do I get diarrhea after drinking?

    Certain drinks including alcohol, coffee, and prune juice have a laxative effect that can cause diarrhea. Sodas, like coke, can also worsen diarrhea.

  • How do I prevent diarrhea?

    It may not be possible to fully prevent diarrhea, but these steps can reduce the chances of it:

    • Practice proper hygiene. Washing your hands regularly throughout the day can reduce the spread of viruses that cause diarrhea.
    • Get a vaccination for rotavirus, a gastrointestinal infection that can cause diarrhea and dehydration.
    • Avoid eating spoiled food, keep food at recommended temperatures, and cook food to recommended temperatures.
    • If you travel to other countries, avoid drinking tap water unless you know the water is safe.
  • Is it better to stop diarrhea or let it go?

    If diarrhea is mild, goes away within a few days, and you aren't showing signs of dehydration, you can let it run its course. See a doctor if it becomes severe. Always call a doctor if you have an infant with diarrhea.

20 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Diarrhea.

  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Eating, diet & nutrition for diarrhea.

  3. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Bland or BRAT diet: What it is.

  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Diarrhea and your child. Pediatric Patient Education (2021). doi:10.1542/peo_document030

  5. American Academy of Pediatrics. Diarrhea in children: what parents need to know.

  6. National Library of Medicine. When you have diarrhea.

  7. Munos MK, Walker CL, Black RE. The effect of oral rehydration solution and recommended home fluids on diarrhoea mortality. Int J Epidemiol. 2010;39 Suppl 1:i75-87. doi:10.1093/ije/dyq025

  8. Gregorio GV, Gonzales ML, Dans LF, Martinez EG. Polymer‐based oral rehydration solution for treating acute watery diarrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016(12). doi:10.1002%2F14651858.CD006519.pub3

  9. Stanford Cancer Nutrition Services. Diarrhea nutrition tips.

  10. Díaz A, Vargas-Perez I, Aguilar-Cruz L, et al. A mixture of chamomile and star anise has anti-motility and antidiarrheal activities in mice. Rev Bras Farmacogn. 2014;24:419-24. doi:10.1016/j.bjp.2014.07.016

  11. Wiese F, Kutschan S, Doerfler J, et al. Green tea and green tea extract in oncological treatment: A systematic review. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2023;93(1):72-84. doi:10.1024/0300-9831/a000698

  12. Manvitha K, Bidya B. Review on pharmacological activity of Cymbopogon citratus. Int J Herb Med. 2014;6:7.

  13. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment for diarrhea.

  14. Verna EC, Lucak S. Use of probiotics in gastrointestinal disorders: what to recommend? Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2010;3(5):307-19. doi:10.1177/1756283X10373814

  15. Guandalini S. Probiotics for prevention and treatment of diarrheaJ Clin Gastroenterol. 2011;45 Suppl:S149-153. doi:10.1097/MCG.0b013e3182257e98

  16. Zhou Q, Verne ML, Fields JZ, et al. Randomised placebo-controlled trial of dietary glutamine supplements for postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome. Gut. 2019;68(6):996-1002. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2017-315136

  17. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Diarrhea.

  18. Shaheen NA, Alqahtani AA, Assiri H, Alkhodair R, Hussein MA. Public knowledge of dehydration and fluid intake practices: variation by participants' characteristics. BMC Public Health. 2018;18(1):1346. doi:10.1186/s12889-018-6252-5

  19. Cleveland Clinic. Rotavirus.

  20. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Diarrhea.

By Jeanette Bradley
Jeanette Bradley is a noted food allergy advocate and author of the cookbook, "Food Allergy Kitchen Wizardry: 125 Recipes for People with Allergies"