What Causes Diarrhea in Children and How to Prevent and Treat ItNovember 11, 2019
Children are quite prone to different health concerns. Although it’s believed that they have a much better immune system response, quite often, their limited understanding of hygiene can cause them to get sick quite often.
The good thing is that they are usually able to bounce back to health faster than adults.
One of the most common health issues that occur in children is diarrhea. Reports show that it is the second leading cause of death in very young children. Diarrhea is a condition wherein a person’s bowel movements become more frequent and watery.
However, it’s important to distinguish diarrhea from a loose bowel movement. A loose bowel movement is not considered diarrhea if it does not occur several times. Say, you voided just once; even if your stool was loose and watery, this cannot be considered diarrhea unless it happens a few to several times a day.
Diarrhea is also often accompanied by fever, which indicates that there’s an infection or some other more serious disease. In children, the main cause of diarrhea is a viral infection. Other typical causes are bacteria and parasites (often from children’s poor hygiene and unclean water), food poisoning, certain medication, lactose intolerance, and natural difficulty in digesting fructose.
Dangers of Diarrhea
The main danger of suffering from diarrhea for more than a few days is dehydration. And along with dehydration are other physical discomforts such as loss of energy, weight loss, anemia, severe stomach pains, sensitive and tender rectal orifice, and death.
How to Treat Diarrhea in Children
Diarrhea is often easy enough to treat unless it is caused by a more serious medical condition. However, for diarrhea that is due to a viral infection, bacteria, lactose intolerance, and severe indigestion, there are over-the-counter medications that are safe for children to take. Loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate are both safe for young children.
You should also try probiotic medicine for kids. This will not only put a halt to the frequent loose bowel movements, but it will also help boost the gut’s health. What probiotics do is increase the good bacteria in the gut. They also help with the digestive process so the body can benefit optimally from the nutrients present in food.
Probiotics do not just come in medicine form; certain foods such as fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut, kombucha, and yogurt are loaded with them as well. Plus, there are probiotic supplements available, too. And when you choose to use probiotics to treat your kids’ diarrhea, combine them with prebiotics to further boost the effects of probiotics. Prebiotics are found in chicory root, onions, bananas, whole grain wheat, and garlic.
In addition, doctors advise replenishing the lost electrolytes from the body. Energy drinks are good to take as well as Pedialite, which is what pediatricians normally recommend for children suffering from diarrhea. Serve the little ones warm and clear soups, too. These are not only soothing to the tummy but are also quite easy to digest for someone with an upset stomach.
With diarrhea being the second leading cause of death in children, it is always better to prevent it from occurring (of course, if a child has already come down with diarrhea, then treating it is crucial). The task of prevention is actually easy and you can get the best results by simply being consistent.
Listed below are four best practices for diarrhea prevention:
1. Keep children’s hands clean.
Most children mindlessly put their hands in their mouth (after touching all sorts of objects), and these hands are where most harmful bacteria first come in contact with the body. Therefore, teach your children to wash their hands often and thoroughly.
If they are too young for this, make sure that you have a hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes handy at all times for cleaning children’s hands. Disinfecting wipes are especially useful because you can also use them to wipe down the things that your children like to hold.
2. Only drink bottled water, especially when traveling to new places.
Unless you and your family are visiting the Japanese or Swiss alps, make sure not to drink tap water during your trip to avoid ingesting bacteria that could cause diarrhea. Instead, set aside a budget for purified water which you can purchase from most convenience stores and grocers.
3. Steam clean utensils for cooking and eating.
If the quality of the water where you live is not the best, it’s advisable to take the extra step of steam cleaning the utensils you use for cooking and eating. This is just to be on the safe side, especially if your little ones have a sensitive stomach.
4. Clean raw ingredients thoroughly.
If you like to feed your children raw fruits and vegetables, clean these ingredients with water, baking soda, and a bit of white vinegar. You can also use lemon juice which can prevent fast oxidation. The acidity from these cleaning agents can annihilate bacteria and germs that can cause diarrhea.
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The information provided above can help you deal better with children’s diarrhea. If these are not sufficient in helping to prevent diarrhea or to hasten the treatment and speedy recovery of your little ones, make sure to bring them to the doctor right away.