Treatment for Diarrhea in Children

By: james sameul

Diarrhea in children

Children can have acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) forms of diarrhea. Causes include bacteria, viruses, parasites, medications, functional disorders, and food sensitivities. Infection with the rotavirus is the most common cause of acute childhood diarrhea. Rotavirus diarrhea usually resolves in 5 to 8 days.

Medications to treat diarrhea in adults can be dangerous to children and should be given only under a doctor's guidance.

The treatment of acute diarrhea in children:

Diarrhea may occur for varied reasons; however, most episodes of diarrhea in developing countries are infectious in origin. Three clinical forms of diarrhea (acute watery diarrhea, invasive diarrhea, and persistent diarrhea) have been identified to formulate a management plan. Acute diarrhea may be watery (where features of dehydration are prominent) or dysenteric (where stools contain blood and mucus).

Rehydration therapy is the key to management of acute watery diarrhea, whereas antimicrobial agents play a vital role in the management of acute invasive diarrhea, particularly shigellosis and amebiasis. In persistent diarrhea, nutritional therapy, including dietary manipulations, is a very important aspect in its management, in addition to rehydration therapy. Rehydration may be carried out either by the oral or intravenous route, depending upon the degree of dehydration. Oral rehydration salts (ORS) solution (World Health Organization formula) is recommended for ORT. Intravenous fluid is recommended for initial management of severe dehydration due to diarrhea, followed by ORT with ORS solution for correction of ongoing fluid losses. Antimicrobial therapy is beneficial for cholera and shigellosis. Antiparasitic agents are indicated only if amebiasis and giardiasis are present.

Children receiving tormentil root extract had a significant reduction in diarrhea, compared with those taking a placebo. The duration of diarrhea in the tormentil root and placebo groups was three days and five days, respectively. After 48 hours, diarrhea ceased completely in 40% of the children in treatment group, compared with only 5% of the children receiving the placebo. Those taking tormentil root also required less rehydration fluids and had significantly shorter stays in the hospital. No adverse reactions were observed in those receiving tormentil root.

Rest, along with fluid replacement using Pedialyte®, Ceralyte®, or Infalyte®, is often recommended. Severe diarrhea, especially in children and the elderly, may require hospitalization for urgent fluid and electrolyte replacement in order to correct dehydration.

When child is vomiting with / without diarrhea-

Give fluids to the child. Avoid colas, tea, fruit juices etc.(as they contain more sugar worsening the dehydration). Preferably give home made ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) :- In a glass of water (200 ml) add 2 tsp of sugar and a pinch of salt. Give this ORS frequently (1/2 to 1 ounce) every 15 - 20 minutes. Other fluids like coconut water, rice kanji, dal, butter milk (chaas) etc. may be given. The idea is to give small, frequent feeds to control the vomiting. Gradually increase the amount if the child tolerates the fluids.

In an infant, continue with breast-feeding as it is the best feeding.

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Bowel Problems
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