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Prevention and treatment of diarrhoea and dehydration in children

Today, we will be looking at the prevention and treatment of diarrhoea and dehydration in children and lots more

What is diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is a very common problem in babies and children. In general, it is light and short-lived. “Acute” diarrhoea usually lasts less than a week; it does not exceed 14 days.Prevention and treatment of diarrhoea and dehydration in children

When a child has diarrhoea, their stools are more frequent, less formed, and more fluid than usual. It may also have other symptoms, such as fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, cramps, and blood or mucus in the stool.

Diarrhoea can be dangerous if it is not taken care of properly because it drains water and mineral salts from your child’s body. If these fluids are not replaced quickly, your child may become dehydrated and need to be hospitalized.

How does diarrhoea spread?

The germs of diarrhoea are easily transmitted from one person to another, and particularly from one child to another. In general, they spread quickly among children who have not yet learned to use the toilet.

What is the cause of diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea has many causes. Viral infections are the most common.

How can I prevent diarrhoea?

The best way to prevent the spread of germs that cause diarrhoea is to wash your hands well and handle food safely.

What should I do if my child has diarrhoea?

Children with diarrhoea should continue to drink the right amount of fluids to avoid dehydration.

If you are breastfeeding, continue to do so on-demand. You can also continue to offer your child the foods they are used to eating.
If you are bottle-feeding your baby, do not dilute the formula. Continue to give him the bottle and offer him the foods he used to eat.
If you are not breastfeeding and do not give formula, give your child various fluids more often, in addition to the foods he is used to eating.
Regardless of age, if your child does not absorb other fluids well, offer him an oral rehydration solution (ORS) in addition to following the previous recommendations.

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What is dehydration?

Dehydration is caused by a loss of body fluids, which are made up of water and salts. When a child has diarrhoea, he can lose large amounts of salt and water and become dehydrated very quickly. He will dehydrate even faster if he vomits.

Dehydration can be very dangerous, especially in babies and toddlers.

What are the signs of dehydration?

Call your child’s doctor or seek medical advice at a local clinic or hospital if you see signs of dehydration, including :

-A decrease in urine (less than 4 diapers wet in 24 hours in infants or less than 3 diapers wet in 24 hours in older children),
-increased thirst,
-the absence of tears,
-dryness of the skin, mouth and tongue
-an increased heart rate,
-sunken eyes,
-greyish skin,
-the depression of the soft space (sunken fontanelle) on the baby’s head.

Healthy children may regurgitate, vomit, or have a loose bowel movement from time to time without the risk of becoming dehydrated.

What is an oral rehydration solution?

An oral rehydration solution (ORS) is a mixture of specific amounts of water, salts and sugar. Your child can absorb them even if he has a lot of diarrhoea or is vomiting.

ORS can be used to:

-keep the child well hydrated when he has profuse diarrhoea;
-replace fluid loss when the child shows

signs of mild dehydration.

ORS is sold in pharmacies as ready-to-use preparations. It is best to buy them already mixed.

During the first 4 hours of oral rehydration (in case of mild dehydration)
Baby under 6 months 30 mL to 90 mL (1 oz to 3 oz) every hour
Children 6 months to 2 years old 90 mL to 125 mL (3 oz to 4 oz) every hour
Children over 2 years old At least 125 mL to 250 mL (4 oz to 8 oz) every hour
If your child refuses to take ORS by cup or bottle, administer it using a dropper, syringe, teaspoon, or popsicle.

If your child is vomiting, stop giving them food and drink, but continue giving them a spoonful ORS.

Give him 15 mL (1 tablespoon) every 10 to 15 minutes, until he stops vomiting.
Increase the dose gradually until he can drink normally.
If your child continues to vomit for more than 4 to 6 hours, take him to the hospital.
From the 4 th to the 24 th hour: the recovery phase
Continue giving ORS to your child until the diarrhoea is less frequent.
Continue to give your child the usual food if he is not vomiting.
When the vomiting decreases, it is important to start breastfeeding your baby again or to make him drink formula or whole milk as usual, and give him his usual food more frequently, in small portions.

What should I avoid giving my child?

Do not give sugary drinks, such as fruit juice or sugary fruit drinks, soft drinks, sweet tea, broth or rice water, to your child. They do not contain the right amounts of water, salt and sugar and can make your child’s diarrhoea worse.
If your child has profuse diarrhoea, make sure he drinks an oral rehydration solution (not just water) and eats. Bland foods with complex carbohydrates, lean meat, and fruits and vegetables are recommended. If he drinks only water, he may run out of sugar or salt in his blood.
Consult your doctor before administering over-the-counter medications to stop diarrhoea.

When should I call the doctor?

Call your doctor or seek medical advice if your child:

-has diarrhoea and is less than 6 months old,
-worsening stomach aches,
-has bloody or black stools,
-vomits blood or bile,
-refuse to drink,
-still vomits and is unable to drink after 4 to 6 hours,
-has diarrhoea and fever,
-has the signs of dehydration listed above,
-vomits green bile, in which case you should go to the emergency room right away.
When diarrhoea persists for more than 1 to 2 weeks, it is not acute diarrhoea. You should talk to your doctor about it.

END of Prevention and treatment of diarrhoea and dehydration in children.

By Bobvalla

Bobvalla Lesly Fomantum is a Cameroonian from the Northwest part of the country. He is a medical student and the founder of Camertalks.com which is a health and fitness website. Bobvalla is kind, humble, hospitable, curious to safe lives. Being a medical doctor for him is not a profession nor a job but the passion he has for the field.

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