Diarrhea is sudden increase in the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. The best indicator of the severity of the diarrhea is its frequency. Green bowel movements are also a sign of severe diarrhea.
What causes diarrhea?
Diarrhea is usually caused by a viral infection of the lining of the intestines. Sometimes it is caused by bacteria or parasites. Occasionally a food allergy or a side effect to certain medications can also cause diarrhea.
What can you do at home to help?
If your baby is less than 1 year old:
- Breast feed more often.
- Offer your child oral rehydration solution (ORS) between feeds if your child does not urinate as often as usual or has dark colored urine.
- If your child is on weaning foods, try mashed potatoes, mashed bananas, cooked apples, and rice kanji.
If your child is over 1 year old:
- Cut down on milk and citrus fruits.
- Give him a B-R-A-T diet (Bananas, Rice, Apple stew, Toast).
- Suji porridge, Semiya porridge, Marie biscuits and plain bread can also be given.
- Encourage fluids like coconut water, ’flat’ cola and weak tea.
Remember: The aim of home treatment is to prevent your child from dehydration. The diarrhea itself may take a few days to 2 weeks to stop.
How do you recognize dehydration?
The common signs of dehydration are:
- Urination decreases to less than half of usual
- Dryness of the mouth— ‘sticky spit’ inside the mouth in older children
- The skin, particularly on the abdomen, sort of stands up when pinched.
- Lack of tears when crying.
- Urine is very dark in color.
When should you call your doctor?
- If your child is less than 6 months of age.
- If there are any signs of dehydration mentioned above.
- If your child has bloating,abdominal cramps,vomiting or blood in the stools.
- If there is fever over 102 º F
- If your child looks very sick.
When in doubt- go ahead and call the doctor