How to Recognize and Manage Diarrhea in Children

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How to Recognize and Manage Diarrhea in Children  Diarrhea in children is still one of the most common deaths of children all over the world. In fact, it has more deaths than malaria, measles and AIDS combined in children. Diarrhea is more common in children than in adults. Diarrhea is anailment where a person has three or more loose bowel movements in one day. Diarrhea may befall as a result of added fluid secretion to the intestine, lessened fluid absorption from the intestine or rapid passage of stool through the intestine.

Absolute diarrhea occurs when bowel movements are greater than five a day or composed of liquid stools. On the other hand, relative diarrhea is characterized by therise in the occurrence of bowel movements or stool looseness.The main complication, and not to mention cause of mortality, is dehydration or loss of great amounts of fluids from the body. The primary goal of administering first aid for diarrhea is to avoid dehydration.

Diarrhea in Children Causes

There are many causes of diarrhea in children. The most common causes of diarrhea in children are the following:

  • Viral infections such as, rotavirus (most common cause)*
  • Bacterial infections such as salmonella and E. coli*
  • Parasitic infections such as, giardia*
  • Laxatives
  • Food poisoning
  • Food allergies
  • Other causes: Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel disease, among others

*any of the three may lead to gastroenteritis or inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract

Diarrhea in Children Symptoms

The increased frequency of bowel movements is the body’s mechanism of getting cleared from the germs in the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Thin, loose, watery stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sense of urgency to have a bowel movement

When to call a doctor

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Very little or no urine, but if there is, it is dark yellow urine
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Little or no tears when crying
  • Cool, dry skin
  • Lethargic
  • Presence of blood or mucus in the stool
  • Fever

Diarrhea in Children First Aid Management

It is important that the child remain hydrated at all times.

Although mild diarrhea will not cause considerable fluid loss, moderate to severe diarrhea may lead to dehydration. There are several ways to ensure of hydration despite constant bowel movement. The following method advised should not be substituted for medical advice nor first aid training. To learn more about proper management of diarrhea in children and other medical conditions that may have serious consequences, register in Emergency Childcare First Aid.

  • Drink plenty of clear fluids, including water, fruit juices and sports drinks. If the infant is still drinking breast milk, offer this to young infants. Oral rehydration solutions may also be given. Children are also advised to eat popsicles.
  • For children, milk is not advised as it may prolong diarrhea.
  • If the diarrhea is caused by a bacterial infection, take antibiotics.

In severe cases of diarrhea in children, intravenous (IV) fluid may be necessary.

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