Diarrhea in children and what need to be worried about?

 

Diarrhea is a condition when there is frequent soft or loose bowel movements (poop). Most kids have diarrhea from time to time. It usually does not last long and often it gets better on its own, but in children the period when they have diarrhea is quite crucial as they might be losing too much water and might lead to other health problems.

 

Among symptoms of dehydration that parents and/or carers need to check in children with diarrhea are;

 

  • Seems drowsy
  • Breathe fast
  • Have few or no tears when they cry
  • Has a soft spot on their head that sinks inwards (sunken fontanelle)
  • Have a dry mouth
  • Have dark yellow pee or have not has a pee in last 6 hours (for baby) and 12 hours (for child)
  • Have cold and blotchy looking hands and feet

 

 

Diarrhea usually cause by infection such as from viruses like rotavirus, bacteria like salmonella, and sometimes by parasite such as giardia. Apart from dehydration symptoms it also includes other symptoms such as vomiting, stomachache, head ache, and fever.

 

It is also important to seek doctor’s care right away if your child or baby have symptoms of;

 

  • Fever of 38 ℃ and higher.
  • Diarrhea more than 24 hours.
  • Passes more than four diarrhea stools in 8 hours and is not drinking enough.
  • Stools containing blood or pus.
  • Stools that are black and tarry.
  • Vomiting bloody green or yellow fluid.

 

Be it in clinical setting or home, in order to treat diarrhea be it in children or adult, it is best to prevent fluid loss.

 

 

Here are some tips which parents and/or carers can practice in order to prevent fluid loss at home:

 

  • Offer more fluid, encourage child to drink more. Offer extra breast milk or oral rehydration solution (ORS) to infants and children. Plain water has an insufficient amount of minerals such as sodium, and potassium which could help with diarrhea. Consumption of fruit juice and carbonated drink is not encouraged as it will trigger stomachache/ cramps and more fluid loss (the later). For children with more severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration intravenous fluids (through vein in the arm) may require in the hospital.

 

  • It is also important to start feeding the children regular diet. They might have no appetite, but encourage them to eat in small portions of food but frequent. For breastfeeding infants continue to nurse normally, whilst for formula feed infants also may continue their diet normally, again smaller frequent meals are encouraged. Foods containing high amount of water such as watermelon is also encouraged.

 

In conclusion, diarrhea among children can be very serious and is quite common, some of the things that parents may practice when it comes to children who frequently face diarrhea is making sure that their children and the carer hygiene is always taken care of. Make sure that food is stored within the right temperature, especially dairy and raw foods products, food must also be fully cooked and  the home environment is clean especially if there is a pet in the same household. Apart from these, consumption of probiotics supplement is also helpful for their gut health.

 

References.

  1. American College of Gastroenterology. Diarrhea in children. https://gi.org/topics/diarrhea-in-children/ (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
  2. National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health (UK). Diarrhoea and Vomiting Caused by Gastroenteritis: Diagnosis, Assessment and Management in Children Younger than 5 Years. London: RCOG Press; 2009 Apr. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 84.) 5, Fluid management.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK63837/
  3. National Institute of Health (NIH). National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Disease (NIDDK). Symptoms and causes of chronic diarrhea in children. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/chronic-diarrhea-children/symptoms-causes (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
  4. National Health Service (NHS) U. Dehydration. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dehydration/ (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
  5. Diarrhea in Children. https://www.webmd.com/children/guide/diarrhea-treatment (Accessed on April 1, 2021).