Key Points To Remember
- Children with toddler’s diarrhea are healthy children who are growing and developing normally.
- Diet changes may improve or alleviate your child’s symptoms.
- Symptoms may improve over time as your child’s digestive tract matures.
- Alert your child’s doctor if he or she experiences other symptoms with diarrhea such as blood in the stool, weight loss or poor weight gain, chronic fever, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, bowel movement accidents or greasy or oily stools.
Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 Now If:
- you’re worried about a baby under 12 months
- your child stops breast or bottle feeding while they’re ill
- a child under 5 years has signs of dehydration such as fewer wet nappies
- you or your child still have signs of dehydration after using oral rehydration sachets
- you or your child keep being sick and cannot keep fluid down
- you or your child have bloody diarrhoea or bleeding from the bottom
- you or your child have diarrhoea for more than 7 days or vomiting for more than 2 days
111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.
Go to 111.nhs.uk or .
Get an urgent GP appointment
A GP may be able to help you.
Ask your GP practice for an urgent appointment.
Check with the GP surgery before going in. A GP may speak to you on the phone.
How Do You Treat Diarrhea In Babies And Toddlers
Diarrhea will usually ease up on its own within a few days. In the meantime, your priority is helping your child stay hydrated and offering foods that will be gentle on her stomach, if she has an appetite. If your little one isnt vomiting or showing signs of dehydration, its fine to let her eat and drink as normal.
Check with your pediatrician about what to give your toddler for diarrhea and baby diarrhea treatments. Here are some things you can do for baby or toddler diarrhea:
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How Is Chronic Diarrhea Treated
The treatment plan for your child will depend on the cause and severity of their diarrhea.
Your child may need to stay in the hospital if theyre experiencing chronic diarrhea or dehydration. Theyll likely be given fluids containing electrolytes to help restore balance.
Its important to follow the doctors advice carefully. Avoid giving your child foods or liquids that trigger diarrhea. Stick with bland foods instead until the diarrhea has subsided.
How Is Diarrhea Diagnosed
The healthcare provider will ask about your childs symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. Your child may have lab tests to check blood and urine.
Other tests may include:
A stool culture to check for abnormal bacteria or parasites in your childs digestive tract. A small stool sample is taken and sent to a lab.
A stool evaluation to check the stool for blood or fat
Blood tests to rule out certain diseases
Imaging tests to rule out structural problems
Tests to check for food intolerance or allergies
A sigmoidoscopy. This test lets the healthcare provider check the inside of part of your childs large intestine. It helps to tell what is causing diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation, abnormal growths, and bleeding. It uses a short, flexible, lighted tube . The tube is put into your childs intestine through the rectum. This tube blows air into the intestine to make it swell. This makes it easier to see inside.
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Children And Diarrhea: Recognizing Dehydration
Dehydration is one of the most worrisome complications of diarrhea in children. Mild diarrhea usually doesn’t cause significant fluid loss, but moderate or severe diarrhea can.
- Dark yellow urine, or very little or no urine
- Few or no tears when crying
When To Call The Doctor
Does your baby have yellow watery diarrhea, green diarrhea, brown diarrhea, or anything in between? Depending on the cause, these bowel movements may last between five and 14 days, but you should call your pediatrician right away if your infant has any of the following symptoms:
- Signs of dehydration
- Mucus or foul odor in three or more diarrhea stools
- Blood in the stool
- Severe diarrhea while taking antibiotics
- Not eating or urinating
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How Is Diarrhea Diagnosed In Children
In addition to a complete medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests for blood and urine, the child’s health care provider may request:
- stool culture to check for the presence of abnormal bacteria in the digestive tract that may cause diarrhea and other problems. A small sample of stool is collected and sent to a laboratory by your health care provider’s office. In two or three days, the test will show whether abnormal bacteria are present.
- blood tests to rule out certain diseases
- imaging tests to rule out structural abnormalities
- tests to identify food intolerance or allergies
- sigmoidoscopy, a diagnostic procedure that allows the health care provider to examine the inside of a portion of the large intestine, and is helpful in identifying the causes of diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, abnormal growths, and bleeding. A short, flexible, lighted tube, called a sigmoidoscope, is inserted into the intestine through the rectum. The scope blows air into the intestine to inflate it and make viewing the inside easier.
What Can I Do To Prevent Diarrhea
Proper handwashing can reduce the spread of bacteria that may cause diarrhea.
A rotavirus vaccine can prevent diarrhea caused by rotaviruses. Ask your child’s healthcare provider which vaccines are right for your child.
When you travel, make sure anything your child eats and drinks is safe. This is even more important if you travel to developing countries.
Travel safety tips for drinking and eating include:
Not drinking tap water or using it to brush teeth
Not using ice made from tap water
Not drinking unpasteurized milk
Not eating raw fruits and vegetables unless you wash and peel them yourself
Not eating raw or undercooked meat or fish
Not eating food from street vendors or food trucks
Talk with your child’s healthcare provider before traveling.
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How Can Parents Help
For kids who show signs of mild dehydration, doctors recommend giving oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte, Enfalyte, or a store brand. It has the right amount of water, sugar, and salt to help with dehydration. These are available in most grocery stores and drugstores without a prescription. Your doctor will tell you what kind to give, how much, and for how long.
Dont give kids with diarrhea sports drinks, soda, or full-strength juice. They have too much sugar and can make some symptoms worse. Also, dont give water alone.
In some cases, kids with severe diarrhea may need to get IV fluids at the hospital treat dehydration.
After 4 Hours Until 24 Hours: Recovery Stage
- Keep giving your child the oral rehydration solution until diarrhea is less frequent.
- Continue feeding your child their regular diet if they are not vomiting.
- When vomiting decreases, its important to get your child to breastfeed as usual, drink formula or whole milk, or eat regular food in small, frequent feedings.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Diarrhea In Children
The main symptom of chronic diarrhea in children is passing loose, watery stools three or more times a day for at least 4 weeks.
Depending on the cause, children with chronic diarrhea may also have one or more of the following symptoms:
Causes Of Acute Diarrhea
- Virus . An infection of the intestines from a virus is the most common cause.
- Bacteria . Less common cause. Diarrhea often contains streaks of blood.
- Food Poisoning. This causes rapid vomiting and diarrhea within hours after eating the bad food. It is caused by toxins from germs growing in foods left out too long. Most often, symptoms go away in less than 24 hours. It often can be treated at home without the need for medical care.
- Giardia . More likely in child care center outbreaks.
- Traveler’s Diarrhea. Caused by germs in food or drink. Suspect this if it follows recent foreign travel.
- Antibiotic Diarrhea. Many antibiotics cause mild diarrhea. This is not an allergic reaction. Keep giving the antibiotic. Call your doctor if any serious symptoms occur.
- Serious Causes. Most bacterial diarrhea goes away on its own. A few can cause a severe large bowel infection . C. difficile is a serious cause that can occur after being on strong antibiotics.
- Serious Complication: Dehydration. This is the health problem where the body has lost too much fluid. .
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Offer Lots Of Liquids
“Infants with diarrhea are especially susceptible to dehydration because, pound for pound, their small bodies lose liquids faster than older children or adults,” says Rebecca Cherry, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Because your baby is losing fluids from diarrhea and probably isn’t eating as much, you should offer them the breast or bottle more often, as well as a pediatric oral rehydration drink, if your doctor says it’s okay. “Don’t switch formulas without your doctor’s consent and don’t give fruit juice. Sugary drinks like juice can worsen diarrhea symptoms,” says Dr. Cherry. That’s because some kids aren’t able to digest the sugars easily.
Diarrhea In Breastfed Babies: How To Tell
- Diarrhea in a breastfed baby is sometimes hard to tell.
- Normal breastfed stools are loose . Stools are yellow, but sometimes can be green. The green color is from bile. Runny stools can even be bordered by a water ring. These are all normal stools.
- Breastfed babies often pass more than 6 stools per day. Until 2 months of age, they may pass a stool after each feeding. But, if stools suddenly increase in number and looseness, suspect diarrhea. If it lasts for 3 or more stools, the baby has diarrhea.
- If the stools contain mucus, blood or smell bad, this points to diarrhea.
- Other clues to diarrhea are poor eating, acting sick, or a fever.
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How We Care For Diarrhea
The Boston Childrens Hospital Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition is part of the #1-ranked children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report. Our team includes the best doctors and clinicians for children, who can help with the diagnosis and treatment of different gastrointestinal diseases, including problematic or chronic diarrhea. For children who have chronic diarrhea with a genetic cause also called congenital enteropathy the skilled clinicians in our Congenital Enteropathy Program can offer comprehensive evaluation and treatment.
Immediate Action Required: Call 999 Or Go To A& e If You Or Your Child:
- vomit blood or have vomit that looks like ground coffee
- have green or yellow-green vomit
- might have swallowed something poisonous
- have a stiff neck and pain when looking at bright lights
- have a sudden, severe headache or stomach ache
- Severe pain:
- always there and so bad it’s hard to think or talk
- you cannot sleep
- it’s very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
- Moderate pain:
- makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
- you can manage to get up, wash or dress
- Mild pain:
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When Should My Child See A Doctor
Got to a doctor or your local hospital emergency room straightaway if a child with diarrhoea:
- is younger than 6 months or weighs less than 8 kg
- was born preterm, or has ongoing health problems
- has blood or mucus in their stool this suggests a bacterial infection
- has severe abdominal pain or constant tummy pain
- is a baby and is doing fewer than 4 wet nappies per day
- has green vomit
- shows signs of dehydration
- cannot take in enough fluids
- is tired or drowsy
- has other worrying symptoms, such as headache or pain when weeing
- is not getting any better
For Young Children And Babies
For young children, using an oral rehydration solution can help avoid or treat dehydration. ORS beverages, such as Pedialyte and Enfalyte, are available without a prescription.
They can be administered slowly, over a period of three to four hours, a few teaspoons at a time. Try giving your child one to two teaspoons, every five minutes. Babies can also be given ORS liquids via a bottle.
If youre breastfeeding, continue to offer your breast to your baby unless theyre vomiting repeatedly. Formula-fed babies can be given formula if they arent dehydrated and are able to keep fluids down.
If your baby has been vomiting, regardless of whether theyre breastfed, bottle-fed, or formula-fed, they should be offered small amounts of ORS liquids via bottle, 15 to 20 minutes after vomiting.
Dont give babies or children anti-diarrheal medication unless their doctor recommends it. These medications may make it harder for them to eliminate the virus from their systems.
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Signs Of Dehydration In Babies Infants And Children
Dehydration can be fatal, and babies and children are particularly vulnerable. Its therefore important to recognise the signs of dehydration.
Babies and young children are much more likely than adults to become dehydrated when they have diarrhoea. They can become very sick very quickly and may need to go to hospital. Signs that a child is dehydrated include:
- dry mouth, tongue and lips
- being listless or irritable
- shedding fewer tears when crying
Severe dehydration is a medical emergency and can be fatal get medical help for your child immediately.
- not drinking much or refusing drink
- feeling lethargic
- producing no urine or only a very reduced amount of urine
- very sunken eyes
- very sunken fontanelle in a baby
- cold, pale or blotchy skin
What Is An Oral Rehydration Solution
An oral rehydration solution is a mixture of water, salts and sugar in specific amounts. These solutions can be absorbed even when your child has large amounts of diarrhea or is vomiting.
Oral rehydration solutions can be used to:
- keep children well hydrated when they have significant amounts of diarrhea.
- replace lost fluids when children show signs of mild dehydration.
Oral rehydration solutions are available at pharmacies in ready-to-serve preparations. It is best to buy an ORS that has already been mixed.
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When Your Child Has Diarrhea
Diarrhea is the passage of loose or watery stools. For some children, diarrhea is mild and will go away within a few days. For others, it may last longer. It can make your child lose too much fluid and feel weak.
The stomach flu is a common cause of diarrhea. Medical treatments, such as antibiotics and some cancer treatments can also cause diarrhea.
This article speaks of diarrhea in children over 1 year of age.
How Is Diarrhea Treated
Treatment will depend on your childs symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Dehydration is the major concern with diarrhea. In most cases, treatment includes replacing lost fluids. Antibiotics may be prescribed when bacterial infections are the cause.
Children should drink lots of fluids. This helps replace the lost body fluids. If your child is dehydrated, be sure to:
Offer drinks called glucose-electrolyte solutions. These fluids have the right balance of water, sugar, and salts. Some are available as popsicles.
Avoid juice or soda. They may make diarrhea worse.
Not give plain water to your baby
Not give too much plain water to kids of any age. It can be dangerous.
Keep breastfeeding your baby. Breastfed babies often have less diarrhea.
Keep feeding your baby formula, if you were already doing so
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What Should I Do If My Child Has Diarrhea
Children with diarrhea need to keep drinking the right amount of fluids to avoid dehydration.
- If you are breastfeeding, keep feeding on demand. You can also offer your child the foods he or she usually eats.
- If you are formula feeding, do not dilute the formula. Continue formula feeding and offer your child the food he or she normally eats.
- If you’re not breastfeeding or formula feeding, offer your child a variety of fluids more frequently, in addition to the foods they normally eat.
- At any age, if your child is not taking other fluids well, offer an oral rehydration solution , in addition to the feeding recommendations above.
Key Points About Diarrhea
Diarrhea is loose, watery stool. Your child may also have to go to the bathroom more often.
It may be caused by many things, including bacterial infection or viral infection.
Dehydration is the major concern with diarrhea.
In most cases, treatment involves replacing lost fluids.
The rotavirus vaccine can prevent diarrhea caused by that virus.
Proper handwashing can help prevent diarrhea.
When you travel, make sure anything your child eats and drinks is safe.
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What Should I Avoid Giving To My Child
- Do not give your child sugary drinks like fruit juice or sweetened fruit drinks, carbonated drinks , sweetened tea, broth or rice water. These do not have the right amounts of water, salts and sugar and can make your childs diarrhea worse.
- If your child is having frequent diarrhea, make sure they are drinking an oral rehydration solution and eating food. Bland foods with complex carbohydrates, lean meats, and fruits and vegetables are encouraged. Drinking only water may lead to low blood sugar or low sodium levels in your childs blood.
Talk to your doctor before giving any over-the-counter medications to stop diarrhea.