Myths & facts

Home/Diarrhea/Myths & facts


  Myth 1
  Food should be held during diarrhea, as it will not be absorbed    in intestines.
  Do not starve

  • Contrary to the tradition, food should never be withheld.
  • Sufficient calories and nutrients are essential in diarrhea as these not only help in preventing weakness, but also promote intestinal healing.
  • Fasting in diarrhea can lead to serious complications.
  Myth 2
  Medicines can stop diarrhea and are useful.
  Medicines are useless

  • Medicines are usually not beneficial in a diarrheal illness and better avoided due to possible side effects.
  • ORS is the mainstay of treatment as diarrhea is usually self limiting and prevention of dehydration can easily be done by drinking enough ORS.
  Myth 3
  Antibiotics are useful in diarrhea.
  Antibiotics are needed only in few cases

  • They have no use at all in viral diarrhea which is the most common type in infants.
  • Bacterial and parasitic infections need antibiotics but they should be taken in consultation of your doctor.
  Myth 4
  Baby’s milk should be diluted as it is difficult to digest during    diarrhea.
  Never dilute baby’s milk

  • Milk does not cause or aggravate diarrhea unless patient is allergic to milk proteins.
  • Milk should never be diluted as it will result only in poor nutritional value.
  • Diluting milk does not help in diarrhea but on the contrary can precipitate it, if the water used is not safe (boiled).
  Myth 5
  Diarrhea is never dangerous.
  Diarrhea can be dangerous

  • Illness and death due to diarrhea are a major health problem not only in India but all over the world. Approximately 3.2 million children in world die due to diarrhea related illnesses.
  • Though diarrhea is usually a self limiting disease, sometimes it can get complicated specially in malnourished (under nourished) children, children less than 6 months old, elderly people, pregnant women and people suffering from other illnesses.
  • Dehydration, if left untreated can even lead to death.
  Myth 6
  Food poisoning occurs only when food is eaten outside (away    from home).
  Care is needed at home also

  • Food poisoning can occur even at home if – Raw vegetables and meat are not washed well. – Food is not properly cooked. – Person preparing food is suffering from a diarrheal illness    or is a carrier and has not washed hands before preparing    food. – Food is kept uncovered, prepared hours before eating and    not refrigerated. – Food has been frozen and thawed multiple times.
  Myth 7
  Drinking plain water is enough in diarrhea.
  Believe in ORS

  • Diarrhea causes loss of both water and salts in stools resulting in dehydration (major and potentially serious complication).
  • Drinking plain water is not much useful and can even be harmful as it may result in electrolyte imbalances (hypokalemia, hyponatremia).
  • ORS contains sufficient amount and proper ratio of salts, glucose and water. Therefore it can be safely used for prevention of dehydration.