Diarrhea is the increase in the frequency and/or looseness of bowel movements. Mild diarrhea is the passage of a few loose stools. Moderate diarrhea gives many watery stools. The best indicator of the severity of the diarrhea is its frequency. A green stool also points to rapid passage in the intestines.
The main complication of diarrhea is dehydration from excessive loss of body fluids. Symptoms are a dry mouth, the absence of tears, a reduction in urine production (e.g. none in 8-10 hours). In diarrhea we worry of dehydration, not the presence or persistence of the diarrhea.
Dietary changes are the mainstay of home treatment for diarrhea. The optimal diet depends on your child's age and the severity of the diarrhea.
Mild Diarrhea and Child of Any Age:
• Continue a regular diet with a few simple changes.
• Continue breast feeding, if already on full-strength formula or milk continue. Encourage but do not force an increased intake of these fluids and extra water.
• Reduce the intake of fresh fruit juices. If given, make them half strength with water.
• Suggest BRAT diet: bananas, rice, apples, apple sauce, toast as well as carrots and if age appropriate yoghurt.
Avoid totally canned juices and fizzy drinks.
Avoid raw vegetables, beans, spicy foods, fatty foods and any foods that cause loose stools like zucchini and mallow, figs, grapes and watermelon...etc
Infants with Frequent, Watery Diarrhea
If your child is already breast feeding continue, this is the best replacement fluid. If not breast feeding or refusing offer but do not force Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS) during diarrhea and for 6 to 24 hours after. Examples are Pedialyte, Hydrosafe, Rehydrozinc.
Older Children (over 2 Years Old) and Frequent, Watery Diarrhea:
• The choice of solids is the key factor-starchy foods are absorbed best. Give BRAT diet: bananas, rice, apples, apple sauce, toast (bread). Cereals (especially rice cereal), oatmeal, noodles, mashed potatoes, carrots etc. Pretzels or salty crackers can help meet your child's sodium needs.
• For fluids, use water (if solids are being consumed). If solids are not being con-sumed, offer ORS. Encourage a high fluid intake.
• Avoid all canned fruit juice or fizzy drinks or other drinks containing fructose because they usually make diarrhea worse.
• Avoid milk for 2 or 3 days. Yogurt is fine.
• ORS is rarely needed, unless diarrhea is very watery and urine production is decreased.
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• Any blood appears in the diarrhea.
• Signs of dehydration cccur (no urine in more than 8-10 hours, very dry mouth, no tears).
• Your child has severe diarrhea (more than eight bowel movements in the last 8 hours).
• The diarrhea is watery and your child also vomits the clear fluids three or more times.
• Your child starts acting very sick.
Note: If your child has Vomited more than once, treatment of the vomiting has priority over the treat¬ment of diarrhea until your child has gone 8 hours Without Vomiting.
During regular hours if
• A fever lasts more than 3 days.
• Diarrhea lasts more than 3 days.
• You have other concerns or questions.
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