It's been two days since my 8 month old baby is suffering from diarrhea. He is not a very fussy kid and does not have many 'bad' days. He is started to get his first tooth, about 6 days back. I have not introduced him to new foods lately and this has made me wonder, if teething causes diarrhea? ~ A worried mother.
The question asked by the worried mother, seems to be a question asked by many concerned parents. Every developmental step taken in your child will be headed by a new problem. Teething period is one of the periods, where many children appear cranky, irritated and suffer from a number of health problems. Teething and diarrhea seem to go hand in hand, and many parents believe diarrhea in babies is caused due to teething.
Teething is the phase where your baby gets his/her first teeth. It can begin at any age between 3 months to 12 months. Teething and its side effects include excessive crying, eye rubbing and even tugging at the ear by the baby. Some toddlers develop fever, diarrhea, teething rash as well as tender, swollen gums. The baby may even show changes in sleep patterns and develop congestion, runny nose and an increase in reflux episode. As the teeth are trying to break out of the gums, it causes irritation and gum tenderness. In order to get some relief, the baby begins to chew on anything and everything it can lay its hands on. The child may even start sucking his/her fingers or thumbs to get rid of the gum irritation. This also causes excessive saliva production that helps give some cooling effect on the tender, inflamed gums. But, what does teething and diarrhea have to do with each other? Is it just a myth that diarrhea is a symptom of teething?
Does Teething Cause Diarrhea?
Many people think diarrhea is related to teething. They claim the excessive saliva swallowed by the baby during teething causes diarrhea. This happens due to the excessive saliva swallowed gets into the intestines and loosens up the stools. This stimulates the bowels and they move more often that they normally do. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. The actual cause of diarrhea during teething may be something else.
When a baby is born, s/he gains some amount of immunity inside the womb as well as from the breast milk. As they start growing, this immunity from the mother starts to diminish. The baby's immunity levels are low and the body becomes susceptible to many infections. Also, during teething, the child begins to chew on any object or toy lying around. They even suck their fingers, thumbs and hands due to gum irritation. As the immunity levels are low, bacteria and viruses present on the surface of these objects get an entry directly into the body from the mouth. The body cannot fight off the bacteria or viruses and the result is a gastrointestinal upset, that is, diarrhea.
Teething and vomiting, too have similar explanations. Excessive drooling causes a build of stomach enzymes that leads to stomach upsets and vomiting. Bacteria and viruses enter the body when contaminated hands and foreign objects are put in the mouth. Their infection may not only cause diarrhea, but also vomiting. The inflammation of the gums causes mild fever in some babies. The acid and bacterial agents that are passed out with diarrhea, cause diaper rashes.
How to Help a Baby During Teething?
When a baby seems uncomfortable due to teething, you can give him/her carrots, bananas, blueberries, bilberries and rice to eat. Do not give your baby prunes, apricots, pears and peaches. These fruits may aggravate the diarrhea. Visit a doctor, if the diarrhea and vomiting do not resolve themselves within 24 to 48 hours.
Teething is a physiological process. It gives rise to a number of folklores and myths. It is always better to visit a doctor when one observes this condition in his/her baby. These two conditions are not related and the diarrhea or vomiting may be a sign of bacterial or viral infection. Make sure you understand the process of teething as it will be useful in helping your baby get quick relief.