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Dealing with Diarrhea

Cures for this Annoying HIV Symptom


Updated May 16, 2014

Diarrhea can be a life threatening problem if not treated correctly and rapidly. In addition it is one of the most annoying HIV symptoms. Diarrhea purges the body of needed fluid and electrolytes, resulting in dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. The causes of diarrhea include:

Got diarrhea and don't know what to do? Here are some tips on how to cope with diarrhea.

  • Eating foods high in soluble fiber can slow diarrhea by absorbing the water not being absorbed by the body. Examples of soluble fiber include:
    • white bread
    • oatmeal
    • white rice (drinking the water the rice is cooked in also helps)
    • bananas
    • applesauce

  • Avoid foods that have insoluble fiber such as:
    • raw fruits and vegetables
    • fruit and vegetable skin
    • whole grain bread
    • muffins
    • pasta
    • brown rice

  • Avoid greasy or spicy foods such as:
    • fried foods
    • fast food
    • bacon or sausage
    • gravy
    • salad dressings
    • peanut butter
    • most desserts

  • Replenish fluids you have lost with:
    • broth
    • Gatorade, Pedialyte or other non-carbonated electrolyte replacement drinks
    • juice
    • Jell-O or popsicles
    • water

  • Increase the intake of foods high in salt and potassium such as:
    • dried fruits
    • soup or broth
    • crackers
    • mashed potatoes
    • pretzels

      Important Warning #1! - Before increasing salt and potassium intake, consult your doctor to make sure you are not on a salt restricted or potassium restricted diet.

  • Increase your calories

  • Eat small but frequent meals and healthy snacks

  • Decrease your intake of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, or soda (pop)

  • Consult your nutritionist for more ideas on what to eat and what to avoid.

Important Nutrition Resources

Imodium For Diarrhea - How Safe Is It?

Important Warning #2! - Diarrhea can signal that there is something wrong such as an infection. Notify your doctor when you get diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours.

Important Warning #3! - Remember, diarrhea can cause dehydration if left untreated. The symptoms of dehydration include:

  • headache
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • fever
  • dry lips, tongue or mouth
  • dark, concentrated urine that may have a strong odor
  • decrease in the frequency of urination

When To Go to The Emergency Department

If you develop any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately.

Back to the HIV Symptom Index

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