5 Tips to Deal with Diarrhea in China

By That's Shanghai, February 23, 2017

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By Gregg Miller

Laduzi is one of my favorite Chinese words. Literally “pulling out guts” the term is much more descriptive than its English translation: diarrhea. Now that you can put a Mandarin name to your suffering, how can you find relief?  These simple steps will help you ride out the runs.

1. Drink plenty of liquids

Drink fluids

It’s a mistake to try to slow the diarrhea by decreasing fluid intake; you’ll just end up sicker from dehydration. However, avoid caffeine, milk, and apple or prune juice, as they can make diarrhea worse.

2. Take probiotic medications


These contain healthy bacteria that normally live in your intestines, fighting off dangerous bacteria. These over-the-counter medications help restore your intestinal ecosystem back to its harmonious balance. Probiotic bacteria are also found in yogurt whose packaging indicates “contains active cultures."

3. Take diarrhea medicine


Take some over-the-counter diarrhea medicine such as Pepto-bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) or Immodium (loperamide). The former is difficult to find in China, the latter is widely available. Avoid giving these to children, in whom the diarrhea is best left to run its natural course.

Most cases of diarrhea antibiotics are not required, and in some cases antibiotics will actually make you worse. They predispose people to infection with Clostridium difficile, a bacteria that causes a disease with the eloquent sobriquet ‘toxic mega-colon’. It’s as bad as it sounds.

4. Consider seeing a doctor


When should you see a doctor? For most cases of diarrhea a doctor’s visit would waste your time and money, providing advice you already know (stay hydrated, take over-the-counter diarrhea medicine) or treatment you don’t need (IV fluid drips, unnecessary antibiotics). 

However, there are circumstances in which you should seek medical attention: if you have blood or mucus in your diarrhea; if it persists for more than a week or if you have high fevers then the diarrhea might be caused by an infection that needs antibiotics; if the diarrhea is associated with vomiting for days, then a drip of IV fluids might be necessary. 

Though painful abdominal cramps with bowel movements are normal for diarrhea, constant pain lasting for hours is not, and could be a sign of a serious disease like appendicitis.

5. Don't forget TP!

Toilet paper

Finally, one last bit of doctor’s advice: don’t forget plenty of toilet paper.

This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of That's Shanghai.

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