Last modified on March 2023
With inputs from Parvathy Menon - Dietitian and Nutritionist
Chapter 1: What are loose motions?
Loose motions or diarrhoea are repeated excretions that are softer and mushy in nature than usual. Occasional loose stools are usually not a cause for concern, but if you are
experiencing loose motions over a long period of time it can lead to severe dehydration.
It is important to understand that loose stools are different from diarrhoea and dysentery. While diarrhoea results in repeated loose and watery stools, dysentery, on the other hand, is caused due to inflammation in the intestinal tract or colon. This results in bloody stools, something that does not occur in diarrhoea or loose motions. There are numerous reasons for loose motions, some of which are from eating contaminated food while others are a side effect of any medication or other medical conditions.
Loose motion symptoms:
Loose motion symptoms include:
- Pain or cramps in the abdomen
- Soft stools
- Stools with no defined shape
- Fatigue and nausea
- Dehydration (signs of dehydration include
feeling excessively thirsty, having a dry mouth, feeling dizzy and urinating infrequently)
- Blood and/or mucus in the stools
It is necessary to take timely precautions and medications when you notice the signs of loose motions as too many bowel movements can cause loss of fluids and electrolytes. If they go unchecked, they can lead to complicated ailments such as low blood pressure, kidney failure, or even death, in the worst-case scenario.
– Loose motion symptoms that occur repeatedly and are watery in nature are called diarrhoea.
– Occasional loose stools can be considered normal and harmless but if it extends for more than a week, it may require medical attention to avoid dehydration and weakness.
Consult a general physician on MFine to get loose motion treated soon!
Chapter 2: Treatment to stop loose motion
Treatments to stop loose motion include:
- Resort to anti-diarrheal medication
- Avoid food triggers
- Follow the BRAT ( Bananas, Rice, Apples, and Toast.) Diet
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Take probiotics
“Loose motion can be difficult to deal with but is easily curable. Take plenty of fluids and easy-to digest-foods such as bananas, curd, rice, apples, and toast. Consuming these bland and easy-to-digest foods to stop loose motion will help in binding and firming up the stools.”
– Parvathy Menon, Dietitian and Nutritionist
Fortunately, loose motion treatments are very simple and the condition is curable. The first step towards loose motion cure at home is to increase liquid intake to compensate for the loss of fluids from your body. Consuming a lot of water, diluted fresh juices, W.H.O. based ORS (Oral rehydration salt) and clear or light soups are some of the great ways to combat dehydration from diarrhoea.
Here are 5 top ways to treat loose motions:
If the patient has had repeated intervals of loose stools, it is advisable to get a doctor’s consultation to get a prescription for proper medications. In some cases, doctors may suggest hospital admission in order to treat severe diarrhea, which may require treatment with antibiotics or antiparasitic agents.
- Avoid food triggers
In most cases of diarrhoea, doctors may suggest foods to avoid during loose motion that may be too complex for the irritated stomach to digest. Cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli), spicy foods, foods that contain caffeine, sugars or sugar substitutes, dairy products, fast foods, complex proteins, and alcohol are some of the most common foods to avoid during loose motion. In some cases, consuming milk during loose motion may also aggravate the condition if you are lactose intolerant.
- BRAT Diet
The best loose motion diet is the BRAT diet that stands for Bananas, Rice, Apples, and Toast. Consuming these bland and easy-to-digest foods to stop loose motion will help in binding and firming up the stools. More examples of bland foods for loose motion include bread, apple juice, cereal, crackers, porridges and oats.
- Keep hydrated
As mentioned above, hydration is the key to loose motion treatment. Electrolyte waters such as coconut water, vitamin water, juices, clear soups or broths are excellent foods to treat dehydration caused by loose motions. Make sure you increase your consumption of these liquids to prevent dehydration.
- Take probiotics
Probiotics are live microorganisms that help in maintaining the balance of good bacteria in our gut and intestines. Improving your gut health goes a long way in improving your digestion. While there are medications that provide probiotics, they can also be found in certain foods such as cottage cheese, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, green olives, and aged soft cheeses. One of the advantages of including probiotics in your everyday diet is that they can also prevent future episodes of loose motion or diarrhoea.
– Loose motion treatment consists of drinking plenty of fluids to compensate for the loss of fluids, consuming easily digestible food and probiotics, avoiding food triggers and consulting with the doctor to get the proper medications.
– It is also necessary to get plenty of rest and increase vitamin water intake or the intake of electrolytes to replenish essential salts.
Book an online doctor consultation on MFine for more counsel on how to stop loose motions and get treated by the best doctors near you!
Chapter 3: Indian Home Remedies for Loose Motions in Adults
In India, many of our remedies and treatments come from our very own kitchens. India is known for its spices and condiments and how we make medicinal uses out of our day-to-day foods.
How to stop loose motions naturally at home?
- Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
- Fennel Seeds (Saunf)
- Mint Leaves
Here are some ingredients you can include in your diet that will help relieve effects of loose motions at home.
1. Cumin seeds (Jeera)
Cumin water is a soothing, mild drink that settles gas and relieves mild to moderate cases of loose motions. Steep cumin seeds in boiling water and consume after cooling. This drink is also safe for infants and children above 6 months of age.
Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that contains a chemical called curcumin, which is helpful in reducing bowel movements. Mix turmeric powder in warm water and consume to relieve abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
3. Fennel seeds (Saunf)
Fennel seeds are known to aid with a number of digestive problems. Steep fennel seeds in boiling water and consume after cooling. If you are looking to treat loose motion for babies and children above 6 months of age, the fennel seed broth is an excellent home remedy.
Widely known for its medicinal value and its antibacterial properties, honey for loose motion improves the consistency of loose stools. Simply have a tablespoon of honey or mix with cumin or fennel water/ginger tea.
Curd for loose motion is an excellent remedy as it has probiotics which are necessary for the normal functioning of the gut and intestines. Consume as it is or mix with honey.
Famous for relieving gastric and abdominal issues, ginger is one of the best ingredients you can consume when you are experiencing loose motions. You can either drink ginger water or ginger tea to reap health benefits.
7. Mint leaves
Mint leaves have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Mint calms an irritated stomach lining and also improves the flow of digestive juices in the intestines. Infuse mint leaves in water for at least one hour before consuming.
– Most Indian home remedies for loose motion in adults can also be used by young children. Home remedies like cumin or fennel water are also considered safe for children in small quantities.
– Indian home remedies for loose motion include ginger, curd, honey, mint leaves and turmeric.
Book an appointment with a gastroenterologist on MFine to discuss home remedies for loose motions based on your symptoms today!
Chapter 4: Indian Foods to Stop Loose Motions
Although India is famous for its spices, some of our cultural foods can greatly relieve the effects of diarrhoea and prevent loose motions at home. There are a number of simple, easily-digestible foods that are perfect for when your stomach is upset. India also has several age-old remedies that can be used as natural remedies for loose motion.
What to eat to stop loose motions?
- Curd Rice
- Coconut Water
- Ginger Tea
- Rice porridge or Congee
- Mint and honey/Cinnamon and honey drink
Here are some of the best Indian foods to consume for loose motion:
Idli is a savory rice cake that is made up of fermented lentils and rice. It is a staple Indian breakfast food that is extremely light and digestible and hence perfect for people suffering from diarrhoea. Idiyappam (also known as string hoppers) is made from rice flour and is pressed to form a noodle shape and then steamed till ready to consume.
Both idli and idiyappam can be eaten plain or with a little coconut milk. They offer enough simple carbs to keep your energy levels up, and are also easily digestible, and thus won’t upset your stomach further.
2. Curd rice
Simple curd and rice are mixed together to give the perfect balance of carbohydrates and probiotics. This dish soothes the stomach and is easily digestible, making it one of the best foods for loose motion. Make sure you don’t add chillies or a spicy tempering to your curd rice as this can be counterproductive. Also, eat the curd rice plain or with a simple side dish. Avoid using pickle as a side dish when you are suffering from loose motion.
3. Coconut water
Tender coconut water is the best Indian food for loose motion. It is rich in antioxidants, and is packed with 5 electrolytes – potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and phosphorus. Consuming tender coconut water during diarrhoea will restore the loss of fluids and help you feel energetic and stronger.
4. Ginger tea
A simple ginger tea with honey is a great option for nausea and bloating and instantly relieves loose motions. Ginger is a great digestive aid, popularly used in Indian cuisine, that helps settle your stomach. Honey also has several health benefits and is a natural sweetener. Sip on this tea at regular intervals when you are suffering from loose motion to stay hydrated.
5. Rice porridge or Congee
Congee is a popular food in South India. It is made from either boiling plain rice with water, or with chicken or vegetable stock along with some vegetables like carrots and beans. Congee is an excellent food for loose motion to reduce inflammation and promotes good digestion and overall health.
The simple starches in congee go a long way in keeping your energy levels up. It is also a great alternative to curd rice for people abstaining from dairy.You can also include fermented rice gruel( pazhankanji), as a breakfast option, which is prepared by soaking previous days rice in water overnight.
Buttermilk contains probiotics which are essential for the healthy balance of good bacteria in our gut. Consuming buttermilk will soothe an irritated and inflamed stomach. For added health benefits, you can mix ginger and asafoetida (hing) in your buttermilk
and drink it. This drink also has the added benefit of being a natural coolant. This makes it the perfect drink to sip on during the summer.
7. Mint and honey/Cinnamon and honey drink
Drinking water infused with mint for a few hours with honey is a great way to detox and also helps soothe an inflamed stomach. The same is true for cinnamon powder mixed with water and honey. These are some of the best foods to eat during loose motion.
– Although Indian food can be spicy and flavorful, there are plenty of bland foods that are not only easy and light on an irritated stomach, but also taste delicious and are the perfect solution for stopping loose motion at home.
– Indian foods like idli, idiyappam, curd rice and kanji are power-packed with nutrition and are considered very safe foods for loose motion and for people suffering from diarrhoea.
Consult a top gastroenterologist on MFine to get dietary advice
Chapter 5: Causes of Loose Stools
To understand the different causes of loose stools or diarrhoea, we have divided this section into two:
1. What causes occasional diarrhoea?
- Poor dietary habits
- Food poisoning
- Laxative abuse
- Lactose intolerance
- Side effects of medications
2. What causes chronic diarrhoea?
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Bile acid malabsorption
- Chronic pancreatitis
3. What causes loose motions in babies?
- New medication
- Sudden change in routine (eg. travel)
- Introduction of new foods in the diet
Occasional diarrhoea is acute and is usually brought on by sudden dietary changes or lifestyle factors. This is completely normal and rarely causes complications. Chronic diarrhoea, on the other hand, is often an indication of a more serious underlying condition.
1. Causes of occasional diarrhoea:
Occasional diarrhoea or loose motions occur once in a while and are not a serious or worrisome concern. Most of these cases resolve by themselves with the help of home remedies, without any medication. These causes are as follows –
In some cases, the body finds it difficult to process large amounts of sugars or spices and reacts to them by causing loose motions.
Alcohol abuse, excessive amounts of coffee, foods with high amounts of magnesium usually leads to occasional loose motion after eating.
- Food poisoning:
Contaminated foods or some food allergies may also result in loose motion after eating. It is important to closely monitor the body’s reactions to certain foods to understand allergies and other sensitivities. It is also important to refrain from eating foods that are not prepared with the necessary safety and health precautions.
Some bacterias, viruses and other living parasites in our day-to-day lives cause minor
infections that lead to the occasional diarrhoea. Proper hand sanitization and clean surroundings will reduce the spread of such infections to a great level.
- Laxative abuse:
Drug-induced diarrhoea may be prescribed to patients suffering from constipation. However, consuming too many laxatives can lead to a chronic case of diarrhoea.
- Lactose intolerance:
If a person gets loose motion after drinking milk, the person may be lactose intolerant. Lactose is a sugar found in milk-based products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice creams and chocolates. When a person is lactose intolerant, consuming milk during loose motion may aggravate the condition.
- Side effects of medications:
Many prescribed and non-prescribed medications may cause diarrhoea as a side effect. In most cases, antibiotics and antidepressants may carry this type of side effects.
2. Causes of chronic diarrhoea:
Chronic diarrhoea occurs due to a more serious medical condition. These include the following:
This syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder that leads to either constipation or diarrhoea. The actual cause of IBS is unclear but certain types of foods cause flare-ups which may last a few days. Additional symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain and cramping while passing stools and passing excessive gas.
- Crohn’s disease:
Crohn’s disease is a chronic and long term condition which causes inflammation of the intestines. This condition causes
severe diarrhoea along with intestinal ulcers, anemia, and rectal bleeding.
- Bile acid malabsorption:
Liver and gallbladder disorders can hinder the action of bile, resulting in the improper breakdown of fats in the intestines. This may cause diarrhoea or loose stools.
- Chronic pancreatitis:
Chronic pancreatitis is a disorder which results in inflammation of the pancreas due to improper breaking down of fats, starch and proteins. Other symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and loose motions.
Young children and especially babies can also often suffer from loose motions, for reasons different from adult cases. Some of the causes of loose motion in babies can be found below:
- New medication
- Sudden change in routine (eg. travel)
- Introduction of new foods in the diet
When diagnosing the causes of loose motion in babies, it is helpful to refer to the Bristol Stool Chart:
COVID-19 outbreak and diarrhoea
The second wave of COVID-19 outbreak that is gripping India has affected millions of people in the country. While some states are ordering complete lockdowns for a temporary period, some are still grappling with the lack of healthcare infrastructure to accommodate COVID-positive patients in hospitals. Many people with mild symptoms of COVID-19 have been asked to COVID home treatment by quarantining themselves. In addition to the existing corona symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, body pain, and loss of taste and smell, there are additional COVID new symptoms. These COVID new symptoms are observed widely due to the double and triple mutant coronavirus. Some of the new corona symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain
- Extreme fatigue and weakness
Loose stools or diarrhoea is a common symptom of the second wave of coronavirus seen among positive patients. Averaging 5 days, most people who tested positive complained of diarrhoea or loose stools for 1-15 days. Since diarrhoea is also a common digestive problem not many take it to be a serious symptom of COVID-19 and come forward to test for COVID.
– There are two causes for loose motions – occasional diarrhoea and chronic diarrhoea.
– Occasional diarrhoea occurs due to factors such as food poisoning, allergies, side effects from certain medications, etc.
– Chronic diarrhoea occurs from more serious medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome.
– In babies, new medication, weaning or illness are some common loose motion reasons.
Consult a top general physician or gastroenterologist on MFine to find out what’s causing loose motion in babies and children.
Chapter 6: Difference Between Loose Motion, Diarrhoea and Dysentery
While both the terms ‘loose motion’ and ‘diarrhoea’ are often used interchangeably, they are actually two different conditions. The main difference between loose motions and diarrhoea is the consistency and the frequency of the bowel movements. There is also a third condition, dysentery, which shares certain characteristics, but has different causes and characteristics. Here are some of the defining characteristics of all three which will help you differentiate a case of loose motion from a case of diarrhoea and dysentery.
Characteristics of loose stools:
- Mushy and soft stools
- Formed and extremely soft but holding its shape
- Formed and soft but does not hold its shape once it reaches the base of the water closet.
- No fever, chills, nausea or vomiting.
Characteristics of diarrhoea:
- Watery stools
- Does not have a definite shape
- Can last between 1 to 4 weeks with 2-4 bowel movements per day
- Accompanied by vomiting, fever, or chills.
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Blood in stools (in severe cases) resulting in dark coloured diarrhoea
- Symptoms of Dehydration
Characteristics of Dysentery
- Watery stools
- Presence of blood or mucus in the stools
- Abdominal pain and cramps while passing stools
- Night chills
- Vomiting or nausea
It is important to differentiate between diarrhoea, loose motions and dysentery because the treatment and causes for both can be very different.
– All loose stools are not diarrhoea but all diarrhoea is considered loose motions or stools.
– Loose stools are occasional and don’t last for very long while diarrhoea may last anywhere between 1 to 4 weeks.
– Dysentery is also accompanied by fever, chills and dehydration while occasional loose motions don’t carry any of these additional effects.
Recieve an accurate diagnosis from top gasteroenterologists on MFine on your condition in just a click of a button!
Chapter 7: Frequently Asked Questions on How To Stop Loose Motions
Q1. How to stop loose motion?
Loose motions can be prevented by practicing proper hand sanitization and maintaining general hygiene in washing and cooking fruits and vegetables.
To prevent loose motion at home, refrain from consuming contaminated foods, foods that cause allergies, and foods that aggravate lactose intolerance in order to prevent loose motion.
Q2. How to stop loose motion instantly?
Angioplasty is not a surgical procedure. Hence, it can take an hour at most. That said, most patients require about 12-16 hours for recovery post the procedure. So, the patient may be required to stay the night in the hospital. Before leaving the hospital, you’ll be given detailed instructions for exercise schedule, medications, follow-up appointments, among others.
Q3. Can loose motion be stopped naturally?
Natural remedies for loose motion include consuming probiotics, foods with high electrolytes such as coconut water, soups or broths, honey, mint, ginger and other easily digestible foods.
Q4. How to stop loose motion for babies?
Babies who are breastfed tend to have loose stools and this is usually not a matter of concern. If the problem persists, ORS will be advised as per weight and age of the child. Do not self medicate, reach out to a pediatrician for the right advice.
Q5. How to stop watery loose motion?
Consume easily digestible and binding foods like rice, applesauce, toast or bananas for loose motion. Include low fat and low fiber foods to alleviate the condition.
Q6. How to stop loose motion and vomiting?
Loose motion and vomiting can be stopped by keeping hydrated through ORS, drinks with electrolytes, clear soups and broths. For consistent loose motion and vomiting, kindly seek medical attention to avoid dehydration and weakness.
To get a consultation on how to stop loose motion at home or to get treated, simply consult a top general physician on MFine!
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