CARE FOR DIARRHEA IN CHILDREN

Dear VMC,  My baby has passed stool four times in the last 2 hours, what could be the problem? And what should I do to care for her?

ANSWER

Your baby is experiencing a medical condition called DIARRHEA which is characterized by passage of loose watery stools and frequent bowel movements 

In this case, it appears to be acute in onset.

Common causes include exposure to microorganisms like rotavirus, salmonella bacteria, parasites, presence of food allergies, and other disease conditions that affect the bowels (gastrointestinal system). 

This condition may also present with abdominal discomfort or cramps, vomiting, fever in addition to the passage of watery stool.

Diarrhea usually resolves in three to four days with proper rehydration; which involves getting the child to take a lot of fluids

However, it can be dangerous when not managed as it can lead to loss of body fluids and nutrients with resultant dehydration and malnutrition.

HOW TO MANAGE DIARRHEA AT HOME

1. Identify the Signs and Symptoms

  • Frequent passage of watery stool, dryness of the mouth and skin, passage of dark yellow urine or even little or no urine, absence of tears, lack of energy, presence of sunken eyes, and sunken (soft) fontanelle in infants.

2. Prevention is Vital

  • Maintain proper hand hygiene through frequent hand washing
  • Practice safe food handling methods like keeping food covered, heating up foods before eating, disposing of stale or exposed food items
  • Maintaining a clean environment

3. Commence home treatment once diarrhea is noticed 

  • A child with diarrhea should never be given any tablets, antibiotics, or other medicines unless prescribed by a trained health worker.

    The best treatment for diarrhea is to administer oral rehydration salts (ORS), properly mixed with clean water from a safe source, combined with zinc tablets or syrup for 10–14 days while encouraging the child to take a lot of fluids.
  • To make ORS at home;make the Oral Rehydration Solution by mixing 6 level teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 level teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 liter of clean water.
  • It should not be too sweet or too salty but should taste like tears, it is better for it to be diluted with just a little bit more water than concentrated as that can worsen diarrhea.
  • Avoid sugary drinks like concentrated fruit juices, beverages, etc.
  • Give bland food with complex carbohydrates like gruel, broth, etc.

4. When to call your Doctor?

  • When the child is less than 6 months of age.
  • When the child complains of severe abdominal pain.
  • Passage of blood-stained stool or black stool
  • When the person vomits blood or bile (greenish colored liquid)
  • When he /she is refusing to drink.
  • When the person has been vomiting and has been unable to drink for over 4 hrs.
  • Presence of Fever and signs of dehydration.

 

Contributor

Lekwauwa J. RN, BNSC, Pub. Health 

Ask-a-Medic Series #vmcgooddeeds