Diarrhea – oooh gross!

My Child is having diarrhea.   Should I be worried?

No, not usually.   Diarrhea is a process where the lining of the intestine has been compromised due to infection or inflammation.    This inhibits absorption of many things across this barrier, most important of which is water.   The result is looser, runnier stools.  

Diarrhea will usually be the result of a brief viral infection that may or may not begin with symptoms such as fever, vomiting or a sore throat.  In younger children a rash often accompanies or follows the onset of diarrhea.    Although the initial symptoms may subside quickly, the diarrhea can linger for a week or two (or even longer) until the gut lining heals and absorption can again take place normally. 

When to notify the doctor:

  • Diarrhea of any sorts more than 3 weeks
  • Obvious red blood in the stool
  • Globs of mucous, especially in someone over 6 months of age (often babies will secrete a fair amount of mucous in their stools, this is normal and expected)
  • Diarrhea that has recurred on a fairly regular basis, especially when NOT accompanied by fever or vomiting

Will my child get dehydrated from diarrhea?   Usually not as the volume loss is typically not enough.    However, it is a good idea to try to replace the fluid losses through the gut with electrolyte solutions such as Gatorade Zero or Pedialyte.     

Things to avoid when having diarrhea:

  • Cow’s milk products – the body is relatively lactose intolerant until the gut lining heals
  • High sugar products – sugar is a natural osmotic agent and will increase water loss through the gut

Always feel free to contact us if you are unsure about your child’s symptoms.