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Treatment for Diarrhea in children

Recent treatment in pediatric diarrhea
(July 25, 2008)

Diarrhea usually refers to the passing of frequent and loose stools or bowel movements. Mild diarrhea refers to a few watery stools, whereas severe diarrhea is characterized by many watery stools (about eight a day).

Diarrhea is most often caused by either a viral or bacterial infection which spread through contaminated food or water. It could also be caused by overeating or a food allergy, but this will usually pass quickly. Even antibiotics in some children have been known to cause loose stools.

Green stools or foul smelling bowel movements also indicate infection. When accompanied by vomiting and/or fever, the child needs to be checked for food poisoning, typhoid or other infections. The presence of blood or mucus in the stool is a cause for concern and means that your child needs immediate medical attention.

Treatment of diarrhea will depend mainly on your child's age and the severity of the attack. However, of foremost concern is the possibility of dehydration, due to loss of fluids in the bowel movements. Therefore, you need to give your child plenty of fluids.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind, depending upon your child's age:

  • If your child is a breast fed infant, then you need to be a bit circumspect about diagnosing his diarrhea at all. This is because most breast-fed babies tend to have frequent and loose stools for first two and half months of life. Some even have up to 12 bowel movements a day and this is perfectly normal. Only the presence of a fowl smell or mucus or blood in the stool may indicate an infection. Your pediatrician will probably order a simple stool test to determine if there is an infection. In case your baby does have diarrhea, continue to breast feed as before, only at more frequent intervals so as to prevent dehydration.
  • If you bottle feed your baby, then he/she may be more susceptible to infections from the feeding apparatus itself. Therefore, be scrupulous about hygiene and sterilizing bottles and teats. Continue to bottle feed as often as the baby demands it.
  • In the case of older infants and children, diarrhea is easier to detect, though not necessarily to treat (since your children may not always agree with your estimation of what's best for them!)

Here's what you can try:

  • Avoid soft drinks or fizzy drinks, fruit juice with lots of sugar and gelatin based desserts as these will only aggravate the diarrhea.
  • Give your child plenty of water and some electrolytes throughout the day. In case you can't get any electrolytes, make your own by dissolving a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar in a glass of water. This will prevent dehydration and the loss of essential salts.
  • Milk may worsen the problem, but yogurt is usually a safe bet for older children suffering with diarrhea.
  • Give your child plenty of starchy foods like bananas, rice, crackers, mashed potatoes, toast and applesauce. These foods act as "binders" and prevent further bowel movements.

Submitted by M S on July 25, 2008 at 10:05


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