An infant is said to be suffering from diarrhea if he eliminates watery, loose, and unformed stools, more than three times in a day. Although this condition is pretty common in toddlers, children who suffer from it can experience immense pain and discomfort.
Viral infection: Viruses such as, viral hepatitis, norwalk virus, herpes simplex virus, and rotavirus, are known to cause this condition. Out of these, rotavirus is known to cause up to ten percent of diarrhea cases in the United States.
Bacterial Infection: Food poisoning is also known to cause this condition. Some of the common bacteria that cause it are salmonella and E. coli bacteria.
Sensitivity to Foods: Some infants might be sensitive to certain foods. Many children are known to be lactose intolerant i.e., they get stomach disorders the moment they consume milk or milk products.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Irritable bowel syndrome can cause this illness too. If the diarrhea is accompanied by severe stomach pain which the infant expresses through crying, then this may be the most probable reason.
Disease in Intestines: Diarrhea in children could be a symptom of some underlying disease of the intestine that the child may possess, such as Crohn's or celiac disease.
Side effects of Medicine: If the child is undergoing some medications, this illness could be a side effect of that particular drug. Antibiotics are known to cause this illness in infants.
In most cases, diarrhea in infants usually lasts for about a week or so. But if proper child care is taken and treatments are provided well in time, the illness can be cured within three to four days. Here are a few means of treating this condition.
To treat diarrhea and to prevent dehydration resulting from it, give the child lots of fluids. Replacing the electrolytes and the lost fluids is very essential as the electrolytes determine the water content in the body and also affect the muscle activity. So feed the child soups or broths that are rich in sodium and potassium. Other alternatives are oral Re-hydration treatments, such as Infalyte and Pedialyte. These treatments prove to be very effective in re-hydrating the child and treating diarrhea.
The diet should include well cooked foods that are light on the stomach, and are easily digestible. For example, rice, bananas, potatoes, toasts, and carrots. The foods that should be discontinued from the diet include milk and various milk products. All oily, fatty, or spicy foods should also be excluded from the diet. Foods high in sugar and fiber foods are also known to make this condition more severe.
Diarrhea caused by a bacterial infection should not be treated with medicines, as the medication might trap the bacteria in the child's intestines, which might adversely affect the condition. Most of the time, doctors recommend antibiotics for treating this illness.
This condition can be easily treated at home. However, if it is persistent and accompanied with fever above 102 degrees, blood or pus in stools, black stools, or dehydration, it is advisable to contact a pediatrician immediately.