Diarrhea and vomiting can be a frequent and unpleasant occurrence during childhood. Many different factors can produce diarrhea and vomiting in infants and children.
The most dangerous aspect of diarrhea and vomiting is the possibility of dehydration. This is especially true in infants, whose small fluid reserves can deplete quickly.
Signs of dehydration include:
If your child shows any signs of dehydration, call your doctor immediately.
DIARRHEA IN YOUNGER CHILDREN
Multiple episodes of diarrhea in children are usually caused by a viral illness and can be accompanied by fever and irritability.
Mild diarrhea is defined as 2 to 10 loose, watery stools per day for 2 to 5 days. It usually is treated at home. If your child has mild diarrhea, you should continue to breastfeed or give formula and/or solids on the regular schedule.
Diarrhea stools are extremely irritating to infant skin. To protect your baby, use soap and water, wash the diaper area after each stool, rinse well and then pat dry. Use a diaper rash ointment that contains zinc oxide or plain petroleum jelly to protect her skin.
Severe diarrhea is indicated by liquid, green stools every few minutes, perhaps mixed with mucus and blood. Stools may be passed with explosive force. If your child has stools like this, call your doctor.
DIARRHEA IN OLDER CHILDREN
If your older child has diarrhea, continue providing a regular diet, as tolerated. Feeding a child through diarrhea makes him happier and has been proven to shorten the course of diarrhea, as opposed to giving only clear fluids.
You may begin by offering foods such as rice, cereals or pastas. These foods provide needed calories and the bulk to form stools.
To prevent dehydration, give her plenty of fluids. But avoid juices. They will add to the problem of diarrhea.
It's OK to take your child's temperature rectally during a bout of diarrhea, but if he is old enough, you may take his temperature orally. (The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that no over-the-counter medications be used for diarrhea in children.
WHEN TO CALL THE DOCTOR
Call your child's doctor if he has diarrhea and:
The goal in treating vomiting is to give your child's stomach a rest, while providing enough fluids to avoid dehydration. This continues until the infection in the gastrointestinal tract disappears.
Vomiting caused by stomach flu calls for stopping all feedings for at least 1 to 2 hours, depending on your child's age.
If your child is between 2 and 12 months old, give an oral electrolyte solution, such as Pedialyte®, ½ to 1 ounce every 15 minutes. Set a timer if it helps you remember to give the doses.
For older children, 13 months and older, start clear liquids, such as Rehydralyte® or Powerade®, in small (1 ounce), frequent drinks every 15 minutes. You may increase to 2 ounces, if this regimen is tolerated for several hours.
Avoid citrus and apple juices.
Once vomiting has stopped, gradually return to a regular diet over the next 24 to 48 hours.
WHEN TO CALL THE DOCTOR ABOUT VOMITING
Call your child's doctor if your child is vomiting and:
(8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)
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