Diarrhea in children and what need to be worried about?
Diarrhea is characterized by frequent soft or
loose bowel movements (poop). Most children experience diarrhea from time to
time. It usually does not last long and usually resolves on its own, but in
children, the period when they have diarrhea is critical because they may be
losing too much water, which can lead to other health problems.
Among the dehydration symptoms that parents
and/or caregivers should look for in children who have diarrhea are:
- Seems drowsy
- Breathes quickly
- Has few or no tears when they cry
- Has a soft spot on their head that sinks inwards
- Has a dry mouth
- Has dark yellow pee or has not had a pee in the last 6
hours (for baby) and 12 hours (for child)
- Hands and feet that appear cold and blotchy
Diarrhea is usually caused by an infection,
such as rotavirus, bacteria like salmonella, or a parasite like giardia. Aside
from dehydration symptoms, it also includes vomiting, stomachache, headache,
It is also critical to seek medical attention right
away if your child or baby exhibits any of the following symptoms:
- A fever of 38°C or
- Diarrhea lasting more
than 24 hours.
- Has more than four
diarrhea stools in eight hours and isn't drinking enough.
- Bloody or pustular stools
It is best to prevent fluid loss when treating
diarrhea in children or adults, whether in a clinical setting or at home.
Here are some tips that parents and/or
caregivers can use to prevent fluid loss at home:
- Provide more fluids and encourage your child to drink
more. Infants and children should be given extra breast milk or oral
rehydration solution (ORS). Plain water lacks minerals like sodium and
potassium, both of which can help with diarrhea. Fruit juice and
carbonated drinks are not recommended because they cause stomach ache/
cramps and increase fluid loss (the later). Children with severe diarrhea,
vomiting, and dehydration may require intravenous fluids (via a vein in
the arm) in the hospital.
- It is also critical to begin providing a consistent
diet for the children. Encourage them to eat small amounts of food
frequently, even if they don't have an appetite. Breastfed babies can
continue to nurse normally, and formula-fed babies can eat normally as
well. Smaller, more frequent meals are once again encouraged. Water-rich
foods, such as watermelon, are also encouraged.
In conclusion, diarrhea in children can be
very serious and is quite common; some of the practices that parents may employ
when dealing with children who frequently experience diarrhea include ensuring
that their children's and caregiver's hygiene is always maintained. Ensure that
food is stored at the proper temperature, particularly dairy and raw food
products; that food is fully cooked; and that the home environment is clean,
especially if there is a pet in the same household. Aside from these, taking probiotic
supplements is beneficial to their gut health.
- American College of Gastroenterology. Diarrhea in
children. https://gi.org/topics/diarrhea-in-children/ (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
- 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/
- 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).
- National Health Service (NHS) U. Dehydration. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dehydration/ (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
- Diarrhea in Children. https://www.webmd.com/children/guide/diarrhea-treatment (Accessed on April 1, 2021).