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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Diarrhea in Children: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Digestive System

Diarrhea in Children

Diarrhea in Children | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the condition?

Diarrhea in children is treated by replacing the fluid in the body. Usually this is done through oral feedings. Most of the time, the child can maintain a normal diet if the diarrhea is mild. Some children are not able to tolerate cow's milk when they have diarrhea. A toddler or young child who is still breast-feeding can continue nursing.

If the diarrhea is moderate, a healthcare provider may recommend clear fluids for the first 6 to 24 hours. Diarrhea makes children very thirsty. Usually the healthcare provider will recommend giving plenty of fluids if the child is not vomiting. The main goal in treatment of diarrhea is to prevent dehydration. Prepared drinks such as Pedialyte or Resol can help replace water and salts, known as electrolytes, that are lost through the diarrhea. White grape juice may be used instead if an electrolyte solution is not available.

After the first 6 to 24 hours of a clear liquid diet, bland foods may be added. These include bananas, rice, applesauce, and dry toast. Additional foods can be added slowly. Avoiding raw fruits and vegetables, beans, fatty foods, and spicy foods may also be helpful while the child has diarrhea. Reducing the intake of milk and other milk products for the first few days with diarrhea may also reduce stomach irritation.

If diarrhea becomes severe, fluids may be given through an treatment with intravenous tube, or IV. A tube is put into a vein in the child and fluids are given through the tube. Hospitalization is sometimes necessary in this case. If unusual symptoms are present or if the child is acting very sick, the healthcare provider may look for conditions that may require further treatment. Medications or surgery may be needed.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

There are generally few side effects to the above treatments. If medications are needed for the underlying cause of the diarrhea, there may be side effects to the medications. These include further stomach upset or allergic reactions.

What happens after treatment for the condition?

A few days of diarrhea generally are not a cause for concern. The exception would be if the child is not taking drinking enough fluid to compensate for the liquid lost in the diarrhea. A healthcare provider may recommend progressing to a regular diet slowly or may recommend avoiding milk products for a limited period of time. If diarrhea continues despite treatment, the healthcare provider should be notified.

How is the condition monitored?

Most cases of diarrhea last 3 to 5 days. A healthcare provider should be called immediately if any of the following apply:

  • blood or pus in the stool
  • changes in the child's regular behavior
  • decreased intake of fluids, accompanied by diarrhea
  • decreased urination
  • diarrhea that lasts for more than 5 days
  • no tears when the child cries
  • persistent high fever
  • severe abdominal distress
  • sickness that is more than just mild
  • vomiting and inability to keep fluids down
  • weight loss
  • Any other new or worsening symptoms should also be reported to the healthcare provider.

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    Diarrhea in Children: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Lama Rimawi, MD
    Date Reviewed: 08/06/01

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