Diarrhea: Learn about diarrhea in children

What is it?

Infectious diarrheal disease or acute gastroenteritis is one of the most common illnesses in childhood. This can be quite a significant problem for children in daycare. There are many causes of diarrhea, most of which have no specific treatment. Rotavirus, one of the most common causes of acute gastroenteritis, falls into this category.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom is profuse, watery bowel movements. Other symptoms your child may experience include fever, rash and vomiting for the first 24 to 48 hours. Diarrhea caused by viruses (the most common type of diarrhea) may last up to 14 days.

What can/should be done at home

Because there is no medication that can cure it, treating the symptoms is the mainstay of therapy. The main symptom to be concerned with is dehydration. The amount of fluid and salts lost in the diarrhea can be significant, and thus both must be replaced.

Remember that treatment is not geared to make the diarrhea stop. Therefore, do not become distressed that the diarrhea has not gone away after a few days. It may last up to two weeks.

Replace fluids with a substance that contains both water and salts. The best thing is to continue a regular diet. However, if vomiting is an issue, a simple salt-containing solution, such as Pedialyte or Infalyte, should be started. Substances like Gatorade have salts, but they have a lot of sugar as well, which can make the diarrhea worse. However, as a parent who has tried to get my children to take this salty fluid, I can tell you some children will absolutely refuse to take it. Therefore, you may have to compromise and use any liquid they will take.

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