Diarrhea is very soft or watery BMs (bowel
movements) that often accompany colds, the flu or viruses. Children will often
have more BM's daily than usual, they may be watery. Your child may have a
fever, cramping pain in the stomach and the diarrhea may make the bottom red and
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY IF ANY ONE OF THE
- You see blood in the diarrhea, not just streaks or
small spots of blood.
- Your child has stomach pain for more than two hours.
- Any sign of dehydration:
- Your child will not drink liquids
- Little or no urine (pee) in 6 - 8 hours
- Mouth feels dry and sticky
- Child cries but there are no tears present
- Child looks and acts sick, even with no fever
- Fast or heavy breathing, especially if there is no
- For any age, one
diarrhea stool an hour for 12 hours or:
- Children less than one year : one diarrhea stool an hour for 2 or 3 hours or more than 10
diarrhea stools in 24 hours.
- Toddlers one to two years old : More than 15 diarrhea stools in 24 hours
- Children over two years old : More than 20 diarrhea
stools in 24 hours.
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR'S OFFICE FOR
AN APPOINTMENT THE FOLLOWING DAY IF ANY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING
- There are only a few streaks or small spots of blood
in the diarrhea
- There is mucus or pus in the diarrhea stool
- Your child has a fever for more than three days
- Your child who has been toilet trained and loses
control of their bowels
- Your child is taking a medication that seems to be
- Mother is breastfeeding and taking medication that
seems to give the baby diarrhea
- If your child is vomiting with the diarrhea, look at
the vomiting advice to see if it recommends having the child seen by the
primary care doctor. Vomiting with diarrhea makes a child more likely to
- Your child's diarrhea keeps coming back or diarrhea
continues for more than 7 days
- Any other symptoms with the diarrhea that are affecting
your child, such as severe diaper rash.
DO NOT USE OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATIONS SUCH AS
IMMODIUM OR KAOPECTATE IF YOUR CHILD IS LESS THAN 12 YEARS OLD.
- Diarrhea is usually caused by a viral infection of the
intestines. There is no specific treatment or "magic medicine" for a virus.
The diarrhea usually lasts for several days or up to a week. The most
important treatment is to prevent dehydration by allowing the child to take
liquids by mouth as often as possible.
- If you are breastfeeding, you should continue.
- If a baby is on formula, give Pedialyte for 6 to 12 hours and return to
formula. If diarrhea continues, switch to Isomil DF (a soy formula) for 48
hours (2 days). Once the diarrhea begins to improve, child can return to
- The BRAT diet is recommended for children who take
solid foods. Offer bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast until stools begin to
return to normal then slowly begin to return child to their regular diet. May
also give yogurt or mashed potatoes.
- Older children and adults can try bland foods and
gradually advance to their normal diet as the diarrhea begins to improve.
- Diarrhea can actually burn a
child's skin. To prevent sore diaper area from diarrhea, change diapers right
after each BM. Do not use baby wipes as they may irritate the sore skin. Clean
skin with mild soap and water (or a tub bath), pat dry. Apply Desitin or any
white (zinc oxide based) diaper ointment in a thick layer to protect skin from
the burning effects of the diarrhea. Patting unflavored Maalox or Mylanta liquid
on the skin then allowing it to dry before applying the Desitin can also help
soothe sore skin. Older children may need help cleaning their bottoms to prevent
sore skin. Tub baths can be soothing.
CALL BACK IF
- Signs or symptoms of dehydration appear (see first
section on dehydration)
- Continued abdominal pain
- Diarrhea not improving after 24 to 48 hours
- The diarrhea becomes bloody
- Any symptoms develop that concern you