What Parents Need to Know About Diarrhea in Children

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What Parents Need to Know About Diarrhea in Children

What Parents Need to Know About Diarrhea in Children

What Parents Need to Know About Diarrhea in Children

Diarrhea is a condition in which children experience loose and watery bowel movements that occur more frequently than usual. It’s the body’s way of getting rid of germs. Usually, it lasts for a few days to a week. Children with diarrhea may also have a fever, feel sick to their stomach, throw up, have abdominal cramps, get dehydrated, or even develop rashes. Parents need to be aware of several critical aspects of diarrhea in children.

In the United States, children under 4 years old may experience diarrhea once or twice a year. If your child has diarrhea, it’s essential to keep them hydrated and watch for signs of dehydration.

Chronic Diarrhea

Chronic diarrhea is when a child experiences long-lasting or recurring episodes of loose and watery bowel movements. Unlike acute diarrhea, which typically lasts for a short period, chronic diarrhea persists for over a few weeks. It can be caused by various factors, such as underlying medical conditions, infections, food intolerances, medications, or digestive disorders.

Chronic diarrhea can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and may lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and electrolyte imbalances. It is essential for individuals experiencing chronic diarrhea to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment, as the underlying cause needs to be identified and addressed to manage the condition effectively. Treatment options may include dietary changes, medications, addressing underlying health issues, and lifestyle modifications. (NIDDK)

Diarrhea and Dehydration

Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, a serious concern, especially in children. While mild diarrhea may not cause much fluid loss, moderate to severe diarrhea can result in dehydration. If your child experiences the following symptoms, it’s advisable to contact a doctor:

  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
  • Having a dry and sticky mouth
  • Producing dark yellow urine or very little urine, or no urine at all
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Having dry skin
  • Showing a lack of energy

Recognizing these signs and seeking medical attention promptly can help prevent complications associated with dehydration and ensure appropriate treatment for your child. (WebMD)

When to Call the Doctor

It is essential to contact your doctor in the following situations related to diarrhea:

Blood in the Diarrhea: If you notice blood in diarrhea, it is a concerning sign and should prompt a call to your doctor.

Suspected Dehydration: If you suspect dehydration in your child, indicated by no urine output for more than 8 hours, dark-colored urine, parched mouth, and absence of tears, it is essential to seek medical advice.

Diarrhea Lasting Over 2 Weeks: If diarrhea persists for more than two weeks, it is recommended to contact your doctor for further evaluation and guidance.

Concerns About Your Child’s Condition: If you have concerns about your child’s health due to diarrhea, it is best to have them seen by a doctor to ensure appropriate care.

Deterioration of Symptoms: If you or your child’s condition worsens despite home care measures or if new symptoms develop, it is crucial to reach out to your healthcare provider for assessment and guidance. (Seattle Children’s Hospital)

Preventive Measures to Reduce the Risk of Diarrhea in Children

Diarrhea can be avoided with a set of measures that reduce the risk. Here are some of them:

Practice Good Hygiene: Encourage frequent handwashing with soap and water or the use of hand sanitizers. Teach your child the importance of hand hygiene to prevent the spread of germs. Also, try to limit contact with children who have diarrhea or are vomiting.

Avoid Contaminated Foods: Do not give your child unpasteurized milk or foods that may be contaminated. Ensure that food preparation and storage practices are safe to minimize the risk of bacterial or parasitic contamination.

Use Medications Judiciously: Avoid unnecessary medications, especially antibiotics, as they can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and contribute to diarrhea. Only use antibiotics when prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Breastfeed your Baby: If you have an infant, breastfeeding provides essential antibodies and nutrients to protect against various diseases and infections. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for around 6 months and continued breastfeeding alongside solid foods until at least 12 months, or longer if desired.

Limit Juice and Sweetened Drinks: Excessive juice and sweetened drinks can contribute to diarrhea. Limiting their intake and encouraging water as the primary beverage for hydration is best.

Ensure Rotavirus Vaccination: Make sure your child has received the rotavirus vaccine, which protects against the most common cause of diarrhea and vomiting in infants and young children. Consult with your healthcare provider about the recommended vaccination schedule.

Stay Aware

With awareness, vigilance, and timely intervention, parents can help ensure the well-being of their children and reduce the impact of diarrhea on their overall health. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional if diarrhea persists for over a few days, worsens, or is accompanied by worrying symptoms.

Works Cited

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Symptoms & Causes of Chronic Diarrhea in Children – NIDDK.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/chronic-diarrhea-children/symptoms-causes#:~:text=Food%20allergies%2C%20lactose%20intolerance%2C%20fructose,common%20causes%20of%20chronic%20diarrhea.&text=Milk%2C%20milk%20products%2C%20and%20soy,the%20first%20year%20of%20life.

WebMD. “Diarrhea in Children: Why It Happens & How to Stop It.” WebMD, www.webmd.com/children/guide/diarrhea-treatment.

Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Diarrhea.” Seattle Children’s Hospital, 30 Dec. 2022, www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/a-z/diarrhea/#:~:text=Call%20Your%20Doctor%20If%3A,child%20needs%20to%20be%20seen.

HealthyChildren.org. “Diarrhea in Children: What Parents Need to Know.” HealthyChildren.Org, www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Diarrhea.aspx.

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# Tags:
Blood In Stool, Children's Health, Chronic Diarrhea, Dehydration, Diarrhea, Prevention
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