Diarrhea in Children- Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Diarrhea is a disease that can happen to children in a sudden fashion. Once it does, the symptoms can last up to two weeks. However, if the condition is chronic and not acute, the symptoms can persist for a very long time. In most of the cases of diarrhea, its symptoms can leave within several days. However, this time is not constant, for there have been cases where the acute diarrhea even lasted for months. Considering that it can cause an immense lack of fluid in the body, it should be a parent’s primary concern to make sure that the child does not go through dehydration. To that end, the main course of action presented as a treatment to this condition is to drink a lot of fluids.

Furthermore, the doctors also recommend that your child, in addition to consuming a lot of fluids, should also eat as normally as their body might allow them to. Throughout this article, we are going to look into the causes and symptoms of diarrhea in Children. Moving forward, we are also going to touch upon the time for diagnostics, and the treatment options.

Causes of diarrhea in children

The causes of diarrhea in children can be categorised into two parts:

  1. Infectious causes
  2. Non-infectious causes

Both of these causes lead to the same symptoms. Therefore, knowing about these can ensure that you know the way to prevent them as well.

1. Infectious causes:

In this particular case, the infection of the gut is the primary reason behind this predicament: There can be three reasons for the infection:

A. Viral:

A virus is indeed one of the most common causes of diarrhea in many regions of the world. As you can already understand, when it comes to infections in children, the spread happens pretty easily. There are various kinds of viruses that responsible for diarrhea to spread from one person to another. Under general conditions, the first source of the virus tends to be the one preparing the food. Now, when it comes to the type of the virus when it comes to diarrhea, multiple viruses can be the core reason behind the infections. In developed countries such as the UK, it has been found that rotavirus, is the primary reason for diarrheal infections. Another type of virus that can be attributed to the causes of gastroenteritis (gut infection) is the Adenovirus.

B. Food poisoning:

The primary cause of food poisoning is, in fact, the presence of bacteria. Bacterium Is a type of germ. Some of its common examples include campylobacter, salmonella, Escherichia Coli, etc. These bacteria excrete certain kinds of poisons that eventually “poisons” the food while it is inside the body. As a result, diarrhea can be caused as a direct consequence of this.

C. Water infections:

Infected water has been the primary cause of diarrhea and other issues throughout many African countries. The reason for this can be attributed to poor sanitation in such regions.

2. Non-infectious causes:

Some non-infectious conditions can cause diarrhea are well. Two types of conditions can make diarrhea persist for a long time. One is Colitis, and the other one is toddler’s diarrhea. The Former one can extend its stay well into adulthood.

The non-infectious causes of this disease are not that common. Therefore, throughout the rest of this article, it is the infectious core, that we are going to be focusing upon.

Symptoms of diarrhea in children

Diarrhoeal symptoms in children can be of varying intensity. Here, we are describing intensity as the frequency of stools and the days that the issue can persist. Following are some of the general symptoms of diarrhea in children:

  1. Severe watery stools that can last upto several days
  2. Stomach cramps that cause immense abdominal pain.
  3. The appearance of blood or mucous in stools.
  4. Intense vomiting.
  5. Intense fever
  6. Limb aching
  7. Intense headaches.

In most cases, diarrhea can last up to 10 days. Some of the symptoms that have been mentioned above might last for a shorter period. For example, vomiting can stop after seven days. However, the rests of the symptoms can persist. That being said, the duration of these symptoms is not written in stone. Therefore, you would still need to be vigilant for the sake of your child.

Now, there is another matter of concern here. As we said in the introduction, the primary concern when it comes to diarrhea is the dehydration. This particular issue entails a whole set of symptoms in itself. These symptoms are as follows:

  1. Dry mouth
  2. Dry tongue
  3. Dry Lips
  4. Only a little urine is produced
  5. The eyes are appearing to be a bit sunken
  6. Lethargy coupled with constant irritation of the mood.

The above symptoms should prompt a parent to seek medical advice as soon as possible. If they don’t, the symptoms of dehydration might become severe, and the severe symptoms can cause a lot of dominoes about the child’s health to fall. These severe symptoms include the following:

  1. Pale and mottled skin
  2. Drowsiness
  3. Cold hands and feet
  4. Shortness of breath

The time for diagnostics

In most cases, the diarrhea in children can be mild and can get better after a few days. In these cases, the best course of action is often to ensure that the child is consuming a lot of good fluids and staying hydrated. However, there are some cases where diagnostics become necessary. These cases are listed below:

  1. The child is showing some serious symptoms: If even the general symptoms of diarrhea are persisting in your child, then you need to take them to the doctor.
  2. Bloody stools are red flags: We do not need to tell you that stool filled with mucous and blood is a red flag that the gut inflammation has reached critical levels. In this case, the doctor needs to run some diagnostics.
  3. If there is a case of food poisoning: As food poisoning can cause diarrhetic symptoms, you need to be prepared to make sure that the doctor is properly checking the baby for the titular condition.
  4. If the child has recently traveled to another country: While the CDC acknowledges the need to making sure that you take some flu shots when you are travelling, some infections can still happen, and gut infection is one of the most common ones among them.
  5. If the condition of your child’s health is not getting better: While we have asserted the fact that diarrhea can persist for a long time, there comes a time when the threshold of persistence passes and the conditions tend to get worse. Under those circumstances, make sure that your child is properly checked.

As for how your child’s condition is diagnosed, the doctor resort to the most conventional diagnostic measure, stool samples.

The treatment options for Diarrhea in Children

Throughout this article, we have laid a lot of stress upon the need forthe fluid intake to make sure that the body isn’t dehydrated under any circumstance. When it comes to fluid treatments, there are two schools of thought that you should be aware of:

1. Fluid intake to prevent dehydration:

  1. As children lose a lot of fluids when they vomit, they need to replenish it with water.
  2. The drinks should be usual.
  3. There should be no fruit juices or any carbonated beverage.
  4. In babies that are under six months old, proper nourishment should be provided.
  5. There are some rehydration drinks in the market. The doctors recommend it for the children who have the risk of dehydration.
  6. Make ORS at home. These are the perfect concoction whose simple constituents entail salt, sugar and water. However, make sure that you are properly aware of the ratio to be used.
  7. Provide drinks to your child 5 to 10 minutes after episodic vomiting.

2. Fluid intake to treatment dehydration

  1. Provide the child with rehydration drinks
  2. Make sure that you read the instruction manual of those drinks.
  3. Rehydration before eating solid foods- it should be the mantra when this school of thought is considered.
  4. IF the child’s condition is severe enough that it has landed him in the hospital, then they would be provided with IV fluids. They also entail rehydration agents.
  5. If the condition is even more severe, doctors employ nasogastric tube. Inserted through the nasal cavity, this particular tube is attacked directly into the stomach via the throat passageway. IV fluids can be administered through this as well.

Diarrhea is not an uncommon condition. However, it can lead to uncommon symptoms if you let it persist for too long. Therefore, be vigilant to your child’s health at all times.


Also Recommended

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Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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