Diarrhea in Infants and Young Children (chronic diarrhea)

Diarrhea in Infants and Young Children (chronic diarrhea)

What Is Chronic Diarrhea and How Does It Affect You?

When you have loose, watery faces multiple times a day, you have diarrhea. Without medical care, this ailment usually fades away in a day or two. Chronic diarrhea is defined as diarrhea that lasts for four weeks (even if it comes and goes).

Dehydration can occur when diarrhea lasts for several days. Diarrhea causes dehydration in infants and young children, who are especially susceptible. The body loses the fluids and electrolytes it needs to operate properly during episodes of diarrhea. Electrolytes are minerals that influence the function of your muscles, the quantity of water in your body, and the acidity of your blood.

If your kid has diarrhea that lasts longer than 24 hours, call their doctor or pediatrician straight away, especially if they have a fever. In newborns and young children, chronic diarrhea can cause shock or organ damage.

Diarrhea is also one of the leading causes of malnutrition in children under the age of five. Contaminated water and food are to blame for many of these illnesses. A youngster under the age of three is likely to suffer three bouts of diarrhea each year in underdeveloped nations. Every incidence deprives the youngster of the sustenance he or she requires to grow. As a result, repeated bouts of diarrhea can lead to malnutrition. Diarrhea can be perpetuated by malnutrition.

Diarrhea is the second biggest cause of mortality in children under the age of five all over the world. Around 760,000 children die as a result of it.

What is diarrhea?

Stool is a frequent part of your life, whether you call it going to the toilet, having a bowel movement, or pooping. However, the mechanism of removing waste from your body might occasionally vary. Diarrhea is a condition in which your faces is loose or watery. This is a pretty common ailment that normally goes away on its own.

Diarrhea can occur for a number of causes and normally resolves within one to three days on its own. When you have diarrhea, you may feel compelled to go to the bathroom as soon as possible, and this may occur more frequently than usual. Bloating, lower abdominal cramps, and nausea are all possible side effects.

Although most instances of diarrhea are self-limited (lasting a certain period of time and with a consistent level of severity), diarrhea can occasionally result in catastrophic problems. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration (when your body loses a lot of water), electrolyte imbalance (when sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which are important for crucial physical activities, are lost), and renal failure (when the kidneys don’t get enough blood/fluid). You lose water and electrolytes along with your faces when you have diarrhea. To replenish what you’ve lost, you’ll need to drink lots of water. If dehydration does not improve (get better), worsens, or is not treated properly, it can become dangerous.

Diarrhea: What Causes It?

what is the common cause of diarrhea in children ?
It is not always possible to determine the cause of diarrhea in youngsters. However, the following are some of the most typical causes:

  • excessive amounts of fruit or fruit juice
  • Antibiotics and other drugs are commonly used (in baby or breastfeeding mother)
  • specific dietary allergies or sensitivities
  • dietary modifications (in baby or breastfeeding mother)

Diarrhea can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBD)
  • infections caused by bacteria
  • Infections caused by viruses
  • parasites
  • malnutrition
  • unsuitable meal preparation
  • a lack of hygiene

Traveler’s diarrhea is a problem for children visiting foreign nations (particularly underdeveloped ones). This happens when someone drinks or eats infected water or food.

What Are the Diarrhea Symptoms?

Loose stools are common in infants, thus this shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. In babies and young children, though, a rapid rise in watery stools — especially if they’re accompanied by congestion or fever — might be an indication of diarrhea. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • abdominal cramps or pain
  • nausea
  • a strong need to go to the restroom or a lack of bowel control
  • chills and fever
  • dehydration

Dehydration: What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

When the body does not have enough fluids to function correctly, it is said to be dehydrated. Dehydration in newborns and young children may happen quickly. If not addressed promptly, it might lead to more serious health problems. Shock, organ damage, and coma are among complications of dehydration.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • dry mouth
  • dry/sunken eyes
  • sunken cheeks
  • no tears when crying
  • irritability
  • dry skin
  • fatigue

Severe dehydration can cause the following symptoms:

  • I’ve gone more than eight hours without urinating.
  • The youngster is terribly bored.
  • The soft region (fontanelle) on top of your baby’s head looks to have sunken.
  • Skin that has been pinched does not recover.
  • a high temperature
  • unconsciousness

If your kid develops signs of dehydration, call your doctor or go to the hospital right once.

At-Home Care for Your Child

When your child has a minor case of diarrhea, you may typically treat them at home. It’s vital to remember that over-the-counter drugs for adults’ diarrhea should not be given to newborns or children. Before taking over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications, consult your child’s doctor.

You may look after your child at home in a variety of ways:

  • Make sure your youngster gets enough water.
  • Foods that appear to cause diarrhea should not be fed to them.
  • To minimize spreading bacteria in the home, wash your hands often, especially after each diaper change.

When your infant has diarrhea, you should continue to breastfeed. Breast milk can help relieve diarrhea symptoms and hasten recovery.

Keep a close eye on your youngster for indications of dehydration. If you suspect your kid is dehydrated, contact your child’s doctor straight away.

After a bowel movement, change your child’s diaper right away. This can help avoid rashes and irritation in the diaper area. Instead of using wipes, which can irritate the skin more more, use water. Zinc oxide-based over-the-counter lotions (such as Desitin) can also help soothe and protect skin.

When Is It Time to Take My Child to the Doctor?

If your kid has experienced diarrhea for more than two days, take them to the doctor. If they exhibit any of the following symptoms, you should take them to the doctor:

  • fever
  • diarrhea with blood
  • diarrhea that is severe (more than eight stools in eight hours)
  • accompanied with vomiting and diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps or pain
  • diarrhea on a regular basis

Diarrhea in newborns and young children can quickly develop to dehydration, which can be fatal. Don’t be afraid to seek medical help.

How Do You Know If You Have Chronic Diarrhea?

If your child’s diarrhea becomes persistent, the doctor will want to figure out what’s causing it (long-term). A thorough medical history as well as a physical assessment will be necessary. Be ready to share details about your child’s nutrition, eating habits, and medications. The following tests may be used by your child’s doctor to discover the cause:

  • blood tests (to check for disease)
  • stool culture (to check for bacteria and parasites)
  • allergy tests

Depending on the results of these tests, further testing may be needed.

What Is the Treatment for Chronic Diarrhea?

The reason and severity of your child’s diarrhea will determine the treatment approach.

If your kid has persistent diarrhea or dehydration, they may need to be admitted to the hospital. They’ll most likely be given electrolyte-containing drinks to assist them regain their equilibrium.

It’s critical to carefully follow the doctor’s instructions. Give your youngster no foods or drinks that cause diarrhea. Instead, eat bland things like potatoes, bread, or bananas until the diarrhea goes away.

Diarrhea Can Be Prevented In What Ways?

Diarrhea isn’t always avoidable. However, by adopting excellent hygiene and following safe food preparation recommendations, you can reduce your child’s chance of experiencing diarrhea.

Diarrhea in Travelers

If you intend on taking your kid to a foreign nation, consult your child’s doctor beforehand. The doctor will be able to provide you with particular advice on avoiding traveler’s diarrhea. Here are some things to think about while you prepare:

  • For drinking, creating ice cubes, cooking, and brushing your teeth, use bottled water.
  • Milk and milk products that have not been pasteurized should be avoided
  • Raw fruits and vegetables should be washed and peeled.
  • Meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish should not be eaten uncooked or undercooked.
  • Food from street sellers should be avoided.
  • Bring your youngster some snacks from home.
  • Wash your child’s hands frequently and with appropriate hygiene.
  • If there aren’t any hand-washing facilities, bring hand cleansers or wipes.

Is it possible for antibiotics to produce diarrhea?

Antibiotics that induce diarrhea include clindamycin, erythromycin, and broad range antibiotics. Antibiotics can disrupt the usual balance of bacteria in the intestines, allowing germs such as C. difficile to proliferate. When this happens, the nasty (pathologic) bacteria in your colon might take control and cause colitis (inflammation of your colon lining).

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea can strike at any moment during or shortly after you start taking the antibiotic. If you have this side effect, contact your healthcare practitioner to discuss the cause of the diarrhea and the best way to alleviate it.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has authorized two oral vaccinations to assist youngsters avoid rotavirus infections (RotaTeq and Rotarix). Both are given to newborns in several doses over the first few months of their lives. Consult your child’s doctor to see if these immunizations are appropriate for him or her.

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