Diarrhoea is very dangerous for the baby, if left untreated. It leads tom dehydration and can also cause death. Breast fed babies seldom have diarrhoea. Know everything you want to know about causes, symptoms and treatment of diarrhoea.
It's a rare mother who doesn't feel
at least a little dismayed the first time her infant has diarrhea. But
it is a common malady during infancy and childhood. Fortunately, most cases
are mild. On occasion though acute diarrhea can result in dehydration,
which can be serious. Knowing what the symptoms are and how to treat it
will help you cope.
Many new mothers mistake bowel activity
for diarrhea. Breastfed babies tend to pass stools that are yellow, soft
or seedy, and frequently watery. Formula-fed babies tend to pass stools
that are soft, but more formed, and may be brown, brown-green or yellow.
More than four or five bowel movements in a day is not necessarily an indication
of diarrhea. Many babies have a bowel movement after each feeding, which
is perfectly normal; others may only have one every three days. It all
depends on the individual infant, and it is the changes in the normal pattern
that you should watch for.
Diarrhea is present when there is
a change from normal bowel movements to stools that are looser, more watery,
and more frequent than normal for your baby. They often have a foul odor.
If this is your infant's first case, you should consult your child's physician.
Diarrhea can be triggered by many factors, most commonly a viral infection in the intestinal tract, which inhibits the way fluid is normally absorbed
in the intestines. A cold or intolerance to a food or medication can also
be the culprit.
Although diarrhea rarely becomes
a serious problem, it is potentially dangerous, especially for infants
and young children. The major concern is rapid fluid loss resulting in
dehydration. Food passes through the intestines more quickly during a bout
of diarrhea, taking with it water, nutrients and electrolytes (minerals
such as sodium, potassium and chloride). This malabsorption leads to repeated
elimination of watery stools and potential dehydration. Vomiting frequently
accompanies diarrhea; in these cases dehydration can develop even more
rapidly. To prevent this serious side effect it is important to replace
lost water and electrolytes at the onset. Any significant dehydration constitutes
an emergency, so be aware of the following signs:
Dry lips, tongue and skin
Decreased amount of urine
Gray skin color
Rapid breathing and pulse rate
Sunken eyes or anterior fontanel (the
baby's soft spot)
If your baby develops any of these during
the course of acute diarrhea, contact your baby's pediatrician immediately,
or take the child to an emergency care facility for evaluation.
Call your pediatrician and be prepared
to answer the following questions:
When did the diarrhea begin?
How many bowel movements has your baby
had, and how often?
What are the characteristics of the
Has your baby been vomiting?
What is the baby's temperature?
Is your baby taking fluids well?
Is the amount of urine normal?
This information will help your doctor
determine if the child should be examined, or can be treated at home. Do
not starve the baby. Let the baby eat or drink what she likes. The baby
may prefer soup, juice, coconut water, rice cunjee with salt or other rice
preparations, curds, banana and potatoes. If the baby is being breastfed,
continue breastfeeding. The most important medicines for diarrhoea are
rice cunjee and water, salt and sugar solution. These help in preventing
dehydration by replacing the essential salts lost with the baby's loose
Some formula-fed infants cannot digest
lactose (the sugar in milk) properly. This intolerance is commonly associated
with acute diarrhea, and can be dangerous, because malabsorbed carbohydrates
may cause more water to be drawn into the intestine, aggravating the diarrhea.
Your pediatrician can tell you how to recognize the signs of carbohydrate
You can add lime juice or orange
juice for taste. Keep this solution in a refrigerator or cold place and
consume as much as possible. For teenagers, aim for 1-2 glasses (200 ml
glass) after each loose motion. For younger children aim for 1/2 to
1 glass after each loose motion. If the child does not keep taking much
at a time or tends to vomit, give a few sips every 5-10 minutes day and
night. The idea is to ensure enough urine output. Make a fresh solution
after 24 hours. Wherever possible, boil the water and cool it before adding
salt and sugar. Though boiled water is preferable, it is not essential.
Once the solution is ready, do not boil it.
Note that if the patient is passing
blood or mucus in stools, he should immediately consult a doctor since
he may need other medicines as well. Normally, thriving breastfed babies
sometimes pass frequent watery motions. This is not diarrhoea and does
not need any treatment.
Although the first - and even the
second - bout of diarrhea your child goes through may be a harrowing experience,
remember that most kids sail through the illness with no problem.
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- The Indiaparenting Team