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What To Do When Your Child Has Diarrhoea?

January 11, 2022

 

More frequent and watery passage of stools is what we refer to as diarrhoea. This is often caused by infection or inflammation of the intestines, and a common illness in childhood. Some of the common causes of diarrhoea in children are viruses, and less commonly bacteria, parasites, or food intolerances. Diarrhoea usually lasts for less than a week, but at times it may persist for up to 10 days. Less commonly, it can persist for longer than 2 weeks in cases known as chronic diarrhoea.

 

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How to manage diarrhoea at home

The main risks associated with diarrhoea is dehydration. Due to frequent passage of stools, the body loses more fluid and salts than usual. If diarrhoea is accompanied with vomiting, this increases fluid loss even more.

 

It is therefore important to encourage your child to drink fluids as much as possible. If breastfed, continue to encourage and increase feeding. If formula fed, consider switching to a lactose-free or dairy-free formula to reduce gut irritation. In older children, oral rehydration solutions such as Hydralyte as liquid or frozen form, soups and rice porridge may be given. Avoid milk and dairy products during their illness.

 

Avoid giving over the counter medications to children especially under 3 years old. Always consult a doctor first before giving any medication.

 

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When to see the doctor

If your infant is 6 months old or younger, please see a doctor if they have any symptoms of diarrhoea. Infants can get dehydrated more easily and should be assessed early.

 

If your child is older, you should bring them to see a doctor if

  • They have diarrhoea with vomiting, and unable to eat or drink much
  • Have very frequent diarrhoea (more than 5 times per day)
  • Show signs of dehydration – fewer wet nappies, reduced urine frequency, dark/brown urine, light headed/headache/dizziness, dry lips/mouth
  • Bad abdominal pain
  • Blood in stools
  • Vomiting out green fluid
  • Any other concerns you are worried about

 

Your child may need to be brought to hospital if severely dehydrated or unable to keep any fluids down. Fluids may then need to be given via a tube or drip.

 

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