Diarrhea is loose watery stools that occur more frequently than usual. Most diarrhea is from viral infections, but can also be due to bacteria, antibiotics, medications, contaminated foods, food allergies, too much fruit juice, or lactose intolerance.
The most important thing is to keep your child well hydrated (good fluids). If there is not vomiting, it is very unlikely your child will get dehydrated. Pedialyte and breast milk are the best choice for young children. Powerade or Gatorade is fine for older children. Avoid fruit juice and milk. Otherwise, feed your children with good food because they need the calories and protein to get better faster. The “BRAT” diet (Bananas, Rice, crushed Apples, and Toast) is helpful when the diarrhea first begins to help “bind” up the stool. We also recommend supplementing with probiotics (available over the counter), in order to replace the “good bacteria” in your child’s intestines. When a baby has diarrhea, using a good diaper cream would be helpful.
The diarrhea may come and go for 1 to 2 weeks because it takes that long for the stomach and intestines to heal completely. Do not be disheartened if symptoms return. Go back to the foods that worked before the diarrhea returned. Typically, for every “two steps forward, you take one step backward”.
Reasons to call the doctor during regular hours:
- If your child is less than 6 months old
- If the diarrhea is severe
- If you see blood or “pus” in the stool
- If your child is dehydrated (dry mouth, decreased tears, decreased urination, dry diapers, lethargic)
- If the diarrhea lasts longer than 2 weeks