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Child Care - Dealing with Diarrhea

Last week, my 1 1/2 daughter suffered from vomiting and diarrhea. After 2 days, she was better. It was not really serious so we did not have to go to the doctor. Thank God! Unlike 2 years ago, when my second son had rotavirus infection, he was severely dehydrated because of persistent vomiting and diarrhea and was hospitalized for 4 days.

Children, especially 2-4-year-olds are very prone to having diarrhea. So, how do we take care of our children when they suffer from diarrhea and vomiting? Do we have to go to the doctor right away?
Well, the first thing that I do as a Christian parent is to pray for them. My quote is "Mommy, mommy, I am sick; pray to Jesus very quick!" Then, I have to do what needs to be done with respect to dealing with the illness.

The treatment depends on the severity of the vomiting and diarrhea, whether the sickness is leading to dehydration or not. Only a physician can diagnose dehydration, but parents can watch for some obvious signs: a dry mouth, no tears, sunken eyes, a reduction in urination, and skin that stays compressed when pinched.

*The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) gave guidelines for dealing with diarrhea.
  • For diarrhea with no dehydration, feed the child normally and give supplemental commercial rehydration fluids within four to six hours after a diarrheal episode. If diarrhea persists, call the child's doctor.
  • For diarrhea with mild dehydration, take the child to a physician. The child should be given oral rehydration fluids in the doctor's office, with food and rehydration fluid continued at home.
  • For moderate or severe dehydration, the child should be treated in a health-care facility. Moderate dehydration may be treated orally, but severe dehydration requires intravenous fluids
One outstanding question that needs an answer is "What can I feed my child when he is having diarrhea?"

More commonly, doctors frequently tell parents to withhold food from a child and give clear liquids such as fruit juice, chicken broth, and sports drinks. Neither of these practices is recommended by the academy. Common clear liquids don't contain the proper balance of sodium, chloride and potassium salts and other minerals that the body needs.

Food can help the intestine absorb more water, which helps slow down diarrhea. A child should eat as soon as possible after a bout of diarrhea, and at least within six hours. Milk products, because they can be difficult to digest, can be withheld for 24 to 48 hours during significant bouts of diarrhea. Infants who are bottle-fed, however, should continue drinking formula diluted to half strength.

The once favored "BRAT" diet--an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast--is no longer recommended for children. Instead, parents should offer a more balanced diet that is higher in calories.

Should they take anti-diarrhea medicine? Giving anti-diarrhea medicine to children is not the best treatment, according to John Udall, M.D, Ph.D., chairman of pediatric nutrition and gastroenterology at the Children's Hospital in New Orleans. According to Dr. Udall, "Diarrhea is really a purging of the intestine." Allowing the illness to run its course, while preventing dehydration with fluids, is usually the quickest way toward health.

ORT or oral rehydration therapy uses a product like Pedialyte, which is a simple mixture of water, salts and carbohydrates used to prevent dehydration in children with bouts of diarrhea and vomiting.

ORT, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a medical food, is perhaps one of the greatest advances in life-saving treatments of the 20th century, especially in developing countries where diarrhea-producing diseases like cholera, combined with unsanitary water and food, kill 4 million children annually. It would be good to have one handy.

The following is a video of a pediatrician telling about the benefits of eating probiotic foods like yogurt in persons suffering from gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea.


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