Diarrhea is dangerous for a child. It appears harmless, but slowly it makes the child sick. It makes the child pass out and to be brought to the hospital as an emergency. Here are some tips to look for the danger signs of diarrhea.
Passing stools that are watery is known to be diarrhea. It will not cause much harm if the child is not dehydrated. The doctor can rule out whether the child has dehydration or not. It is very dangerous if the kid has vomiting along with watery stools.
Many things, including: may cause diarrhea:
Parasites entering the body through food or water.
Reaction to medicines like antibiotics or laxatives in both children and adults.
An intestinal disease, like inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, etc.
Functional bowel disorder.
Traveler's diarrhea is common among children who visit foreign countries due to unclean food and water.
Symptoms of diarrhea in children may include:
Belly (abdominal) pain.
Loss of body fluids (dehydration).
Swelling or bloating.
Stomach upset (nausea).
Urge to use the bathroom.
The symptoms of severe diarrhea may be a sign of severe disease. Take your child to the healthcare provider for a diagnosis before it is too late.
Types of diarrhea are:
Short-term (acute): Diarrhea that lasts for a short period, like 1 or 2 days, and goes away are called short-term (acute) diarrhea. This can be due to contaminated food or water by bacteria (bacterial infection) or a viral infection.
Long-term (chronic): Diarrhea that lasts for an extended period, like for few weeks, are called long-term or chronic diarrhea. This can be due to different health problems like irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal diseases like ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, or celiac disease. Giardia can also cause chronic diarrhea.
Diarrhea can usually go away in a few days, but it can lead to severe complications. So if your child has the following symptoms, do not wait; get help.
More watery stools, that is, more than 3 to 5 times per day.
Altered sensorium, like drowsiness and fainting.
Blood in stools.
Not eating well.
The child is looking very sick.
Younger than 6 months old.
Vomiting bloody green or yellow fluid.
Has persistent fever over 100.4° F in a rectal thermometer.
Any one of the above and watery diarrhea require immediate hospitalization. Bacterial food poisoning can lead to blood in the watery stools, which is called dysentery. It requires management from the intensive care unit. The child may forget the sense of thirst or hunger due to severe diarrhea.
The healthcare provider will ask about the symptoms and health history of the child, along with a physical examination. Blood and urine samples can be taken and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
The other tests may include:
A stool culture.
A stool evaluation.
A sigmoidoscopy is done to check the inside of part of the large intestine of the child. A short, flexible, lighted tube (sigmoidoscope) is inserted into the child's intestine through the rectum, which blows air inside the intestine and swells, allowing a clear view of the intestine.
ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts):
This ORS solution is the cure and prevention of further deterioration from diarrhea. It contains glucose, sodium, chloride, potassium, and citrate, and the newer ones have zinc, calcium, and magnesium. We can mix a sachet of ORS with five glasses of water, and it can be administered to the child. Depending on the level of dehydration, the doctor will administer a calculated dose immediately and a calculated maintenance dose after each stool. The doctor will advise these in simpler terms.
When the diarrhea is very severe, the outcome will be a little dangerous. Therefore, it requires administering IV (intravenous) drugs and IV fluids. But early intervention will prevent the child's health from worsening.
Now, you would have to know what to look for in the child, and the doctor will also know what to look for in his patient. Therefore, it is teamwork between the parents and the medical staff. Luckily, the collaboration is becoming better by every week as we see fewer mortalities with diarrhea.
Dehydration is one of the most problematic complications of diarrhea in children. Mild diarrhea usually does not cause significant loss of fluid, but moderate or severe diarrhea can cause.
Severe dehydration is dangerous because it can lead to seizures, brain damage, or even death. Know the signs of dehydration and call for the doctor if your child has it:
Dizziness and light-headedness.
Dry and sticky mouth.
Few or no tears when crying.
Cool and dry skin.
Dark yellow urine that is very little or no urine.
Lack of energy.
We can prevent diarrhea by:
Proper handwashing to reduce the spread of bacteria that can cause diarrhea.
Taking rotavirus vaccine to prevent diarrhea caused by rotaviruses.
Consult with your child's healthcare provider about the right vaccines for your child.
Last reviewed at:
13 May 2021 - 4 min read
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