Diarrhoea can be caused by a number of things, however the most common cause tends to be food poisoning. This illness is very common in infants and toddlers, especially during Winter and it tends to pass quickly, within 3-4 days. However, it may take at least 7 days for your child’s motions to return to normal, as the good bacteria in their tummies has been disrupted. Probiotics are beneficial during this time and include products such as Inner Health Plus, available in pharmacies. Children may initially be vomiting, and some may even have a runny nose and a sore throat along with diarrhoea.
If your child has a fever, constant tummy pain, vomiting, bloody or mucousy stools, this may indicate a bacterial cause.
Better out than in
Diarrhoea is the bodies attempt to get rid of something that isn’t mean’t to be there. Many products will effectively stop the diarrhoea, however we must also value the bodies attempts to eliminate the bug that isn’t mean’t to be there and that may otherwise “fester” within!
Therefore it is best to let the diarrhoea run its course, but proper rehydration therapy must be applied.
The most common complication associated with diarrhoea is dehydration, and small children or those who are ill, will quickly dehydrate given the chance. You must encourage your child to drink fluids, and not just water.
Water is very dilute and can make the diarrhoea worse. Therefore it is recommended that you add some electrolytes to the water in the right proportions. If you have some cordial or juice at home, you can add this 1 part to 20 parts water, or just so there is a slight taste. Alternatively, there are a range of products available in the pharmacy, such as hydralyte and gastrolyte. Hydralyte comes in a ready to use solution, satchets (Just add water), and ice blocks. These are very convenient and ensure your child receives the correct proportions of electrolytes and fluid.
You should seek medical advise if:
- Your child sufferes from other chronic illnesses
- You cannot get your child to take sufficient fluids to keep themselves hydrated
- Your child is less than 6 months old
- If you child has a fever or bad tummy pains
- If the diarrhoea is very severe or lasts longer than 3 days
- If vomiting persists or your child just isn’t themselves
Formula and Breast Fed Infants
If your baby is vomiting and on formula you should replace the formula with liquid rehydration preparations such as hydralyte and gastrolyte, available from your pharmacy. You should aim to have your child back on the formula within 24 hours. When formula has been recommenced you should still offer oral rehydration products in between feeds. If your child’s diarrhoea persists, they may need a lactose free formula. When a child has severe diarrhoea, the flora in their gut is reduced and therefore they can’t break down the lactose in some milk preparations.
If your baby is eating solids, ensure that these are simple, such as rice cereal, potato, pumpkin etc.
If your child is breast fed, continue breats feeding throughout the diarrhoea and vomiting, you may also offer oral rehydration fluids between feeds.
How much fluid does my child need?
If your child is less than 6 months old, you should ask your doctor how much they need.
- 6-23 months 40-60ml hourly
- 2-5 years 60-100ml hourly
- 6-10 years 100-120ml hourly
- 11-16 years 120-160ml hourly