What Is chronic diarrhea in children?
Diarrhea when you have loose, watery stools several times a day. This condition usually clears up in a day or two days without medical treatment. Diarrhea that lasts for four weeks (even if it comes and goes) is considered chronic diarrhea.
When diarrhea lasts for several days, it can lead to dehydration. Babies and young children experience dehydration caused by diarrhea. During episodes of diarrhea, the body loses the fluids and electrolytes it needs to function properly. Electrolytes are minerals that affect the function of your muscles, the amount of water in your body, and the acidity of your blood.
Call your pediatrician right away if you have diarrhea for more than 24 hours, especially if you also have a fever. Chronic diarrhea can cause shock or organ damage in infants and young children.
Diarrhea is also a major cause of malnutrition in children under 5 years of age. Most of these cases are due to contaminated food and water. In developing countries, children under the age of 3 are more likely to have three episodes of diarrhea per year. Each event causes a child to lose the nutrients it needs to grow. Episodes of diarrhea can lead to malnutrition. Malnutrition can continue the cycle of diarrhea.
Worldwide, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age. Approximately 760,000 children are killed each year.
Symptoms of chronic diarrhea
Babies often produce loose tops, so this is not an immediate concern. However, a sudden increase in watery stools, especially if they are congested or have a fever, can be a sign of diarrhea in infants and young children. Other features:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Need to go to the bathroom or loss of bowel control
- Fever and chills
Causes of chronic diarrhea
The cause of chronic diarrhea in children is not always found. However, the common causes are:
- Too much fruit juice
- Use of antibiotics or other actions
- Allergies or sensitivities to certain foods
- Diet changes
Severe chronic diarrhea can be caused by:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Bacterial infections
- Viral infections
- Improper food preparation
- Poor hygiene
Diagnosis of chronic diarrhea
The doctor may want to determine the cause of your child’s diarrhea if the condition becomes chronic. A complete medical history and physical examination are required. Provide information about your child’s diet, eating habits, and medications. Your pediatrician may use the following tests to determine the cause:
- Blood tests (to check for disease)
- Stool culture (to detect bacteria and parasites)
- Allergy tests
Depending on the results of these tests, more tests may be required.
Treatment for chronic diarrhea
Your child’s treatment plan depends on the cause and severity of diarrhea. Your child may need to stay in the hospital if they experience chronic diarrhea or dehydration. They are given fluids that contain electrolytes to help restore balance.
It is important to carefully follow the doctor’s advice. Avoid giving your child foods or liquids that can cause diarrhea. Eat soft foods (such as potatoes, toast, or bananas) until diarrhea goes away.
Caring for your child at home
Home treatment is often effective when your child has diarrhea. It is important to note that the over-the-counter medicines used to treat diarrhea in adults should not be given to infants or children. Talk to your pediatrician before using anti-di-antidiarrheal medications.
You can take care of your child at home in the following ways:
- Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids
- Do not give them foods that cause diarrhea
- Wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading bacteria around the home, especially after every diaper change
- You should continue to breastfeed when your baby has diarrhea. Breast milk helps reduce and recover from symptoms of diarrhea.
- Examine your baby carefully for signs of dehydration. Call your pediatrician right away if you think your child is dehydrated.
- Change your baby’s diaper as soon as a bowel movement occurs. Helps prevent diaper rash and irritation. Use water instead of cleaning, which can further irritate the skin. Over-the-counter creams with zinc oxide (such as a decision) can also help soothe and protect the skin.
Prevention of chronic diarrhea
Diarrhea cannot always be prevented. However, by following good hygiene and safe food preparation guidelines, you can reduce your child’s risk of diarrhea.
Traveler’s diarrhea: Talk to your pediatrician if you plan to travel abroad with your child. Your doctor will be able to give you specific information on how to prevent passenger diarrhea. Here are some preparatory steps to consider:
- Use bottled water for drinking, making ice cubes, cooking, and brushing your teeth
- Avoid unpasteurized milk or dairy products
- Wash and peel raw fruits and vegetables
- Avoid eating raw or cooked meat, poultry, and seafood
- Avoid getting food from street vendors
- Pack some snacks from home for your children
- Follow proper hygiene and wash your child’s hands often
- If you do not have hand-washing facilities, bring a washcloth or hand-washing cloth
Rotavirus: Two oral vaccines to help prevent rotavirus infections in children approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (Rotatech and Rotarix). Babies receive multiple doses during their first few months. Ask your pediatrician if these vaccines are recommended for your child.
When to see a doctor?
If your child has diarrhea for more than two days, take her to the doctor. You should see a doctor if they show any of the following symptoms:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Severe diarrhea (more than eight bowel movements in eight hours)
- Diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting.
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Recurrent diarrhea
Diarrhea in infants and young children can lead to rapid dehydration, which is a dangerous condition. Don’t hesitate to call a doctor.