Diarrhea in Children
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
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
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
Any other new or worsening symptoms should also be
reported to the healthcare provider.