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Diarrhea in Children

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Diarrhea remains one of the most common illnesses of children in the developing countries. Most hospitalizations and deaths due to diarrhea occur in the first year of life.

Many factors can contribute to the development of diarrhea. These include:

  • Teething
  • Introduction of a new food or formula
  • Viral, bacterial or protozoal gastroenteritis
  • Use of medications, especially broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Lactose intolerance


Dehydration in children

The major concern for children with diarrhea is dehydration.

The following are signs of dehydration in children:

  • Decreased or no urination
  • Depressed fontanelle (soft spots on a baby’s head)
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased or absent tears
  • Dizziness or disorientation
  • Loss of skin turgor

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Prevention of diarrhoea

The main strategy for prevention and control of diarrhea is awareness generation among the mothers. Hygiene improvement is a critical element of diarrhea prevention.


Treatment of diarrhoea

Oral therapy with a fluid-electrolyte solution for rehydration and maintenance is a simple and effective method treatment of acute diarrhea.


Management of diarrhoea

During management, breast-fed infants should continue nursing on demand. For bottle-fed infants, lactose-free or lactose-reduced formulas can be administered post-rehydration in small amounts. Older children receiving semisolid or solid foods should be continued on their usual diet during diarrhea.

Recommended foods include

  • Starches
  • Cereals
  • Yogurt
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables.

Foods high in simple sugars and fats should be avoided.

Neither antibiotics nor nonspecific antidiarrheal agents are usually indicated for acute diarrhea.

Antibiotics should be considered when dysentery or a high fever is present or when stool cultures indicate need for a specific treatment.

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: July 13, 2011

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