Diarrhea in Kids - What You Should Know

  • Diarrhea is very common in children, and is most commonly associated with an infectious viral condition. It is often messy and uncomfortable.
  • The primary concern in kids is prevention of dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration would be any one of the following:
    • Tearless crying
    • Sticky mouth inside (should normally be wet and slippery)
    • No urine output for > 8 hours for infants, > 12 hours for toddler-adult

(If any one of the above symptoms is present the child needs to be taken to ER)

  • If the child is tolerating fluids without vomiting, unlimited amounts of clear fluids like Pedialyte, (no fruit juice at all) should be offered to replenish fluids lost. Electrolyte solutions like Gatorade can be diluted by half with water and used.
  • If the child is able to tolerate solid foods, the diet should be kept bland and starchy—pasta, crackers, rice, potatoes, etc. Bananas and applesauce are helpful. Probiotics can help restore the GI tract with normal healthy bacteria. If cow's milk is causing worsening symptoms consider soy milk, rice milk, almond milk or LactAid milk.
  • Stomach aches are associated with diarrhea, but should "come in waves" and be somewhat relieved (for a short time at least) with passage of stool.
  • Do not expect a speedy return to normal stooling patterns. Diarrhea from typical, harmless causes can last up to 2 weeks.
  • Diaper rash in diapered children with diarrhea is expected. You can sometimes head this off by using a typical diaper rash cream for prevention, and using plain water washing for removal of stool.
  • Frequent hand washing is important to prevent spread of illness.
  • Over the counter medications such as Imodium, Kaopectate, or Pepto Bismol are not recommended.

Call your child's health care provider or have your child seen if:

  • Any signs of dehydration occur (see above)
  • Your child has bloody diarrhea
  • Mild diarrhea lasts longer than 2 weeks
  • There is continuous abdominal pain for more than 2 hours
  • Fever higher than 105 or between 100.3-105 for longer than 72 hours
  • This information did not help and you are concerned

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