Diarrhea - When to get Medical Help and Self-Care


There are many interventions that you can do. First let us discuss when it is important to get medical help.

Vomiting and diarrhea in children is usually caused by viral infections and is self-limited, lasting one to five days. The main problem for young children (under age 2) is dehydration. Dehydration occurs when one loses more fluid then they can take in. A person is a setup for this when they have more than 10 bouts of vomiting OR 10 episodes of diarrhea. If your baby or child is having diarrhea and you notices the following please get medical help.

1. Dry and sunken eyes.

2. Dry skin and dry mouth

3. Crying and has no tears

4. Dry diaper for 3 hours or longer in a baby.

5. Passing no urine for more that 6 hours in a child.

6. Child is easily upset or cranky.

7. If a child is feeling weak and tired

8. Blood in the stools

9. Severe pains in the stomach or abdomen and acts very sick to you.

10. If an infant and has more than 8 diarrhea movements a day.

Call your doctor for diarrhea for over 48 hr. or if there is a fever greater than 101 F is present. Severe constant abdominal pain can be Appendicitis, a kidney infection or a gynecological problem. Non-sexually active females can have ovarian problems that can cause abdominal pain with vomiting and/or diarrhea.

In older children (over 2) you can often safely give over-the-counter medicines. Many non-prescription preparations are available, but consult your physician or pharmacist before treating a child for diarrhea. If the child is on any medicine for another medical problem the presence of diarrhea will decrease absorption of the medication.

Often diarrhea comes after bad constipation that is not having had regular bowel movements. If your child often gets stains on their underwear, you need to get medical help, if you are concerned that your child has been near someone with a bacterial infection, an outbreak in a daycare center is reported, or several people have eaten a similar meal or similarly traveled.

I would like to suggest some Self-Care tips. Medical common sense should begin at the recognition that your child has diarrhea. First, don't give your child any solid food or milk, except for breast milk. Next give your child plenty of clear liquids. Two ounces in an hour to a baby, even if a child wants more, do not give more than that. Stop breast-feeding if an infant has more than 10 bouts of vomiting or diarrhea per day. If an infant who is breast-feeding has moderate symptoms, simply alternate breast-feeding with oral rehydrating solutions. For children between ages 1 and 5 give 4 ounces every hour. Over 5 yr. give 5 ounces every hour. Again, even if the child is thirsty no more than that. A good substitute for water is Pedialyte, Ricelyte or Lytren. Gatorade is a second best choices for children who refuse Pedialyte and Lytren. These non-prescription liquids contain minerals that are quite similar to the intravenous solutions that are given in the hospital and are available at most supermarkets and drug stores.

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