Gas (“breaking wind,” “flatulence,” “farting”) and diarrhea (change in regular bowel habit- usually 3 or more loose/watery stools a day, less formed stool and more frequent) can be caused by any number of things from being unable to digest “lactose,” a natural sugar found in dairy products, to the stomach flu. Since there are well over 30 different causes of gas and more than 80 possible causes of diarrhea, it’s best to make an appointment with your primary health care provider (HCP). Your HCP will likely ask you questions such as: how long have you had symptoms, if you have any known food sensitivities, and if you have been traveling. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to write down what you eat each day to see if your symptoms get better or worse after eating or drinking certain foods. Bring this log with you when you see your HCP.
If your symptoms came on suddenly, you have a fever of 100.4 or higher, blood or mucous in your bowel movement, more than 6 loose bowel movements in a day, bad pain in your belly, or you are not better in 48 hours, you should call your health care provider right away! To lessen the risk of dehydration (when your body loses too much fluid), drink plenty of liquids such as water mixed with apple juice, and clear soup. You can try to eat plain foods such as bananas, oatmeal, rice, saltine crackers, etc. Your urine should be clear to light yellow. If your urine is darker in color than usual, you’re thirsty and tired you have symptoms of dehydration. This is a serious health condition that requires medical care right away.