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Diarrhoea - What it is

Diarrhoea refers to the frequent passage of loose watery stools due to an infection of the intestines. The infection may or may not be accompanied by vomiting, fever and abdominal pain.

The diarrhoea usually lasts for 2 to 4 days. Occasionally, it may persist up to 10 days. This infection of the intestine is known as gastroenteritis.

What Is Gastroenteritis?

Viruses are usually responsible for this infection. The commonest virus resulting in gastroenteritis is rotavirus.

Rarely, it can be caused by bacterial infections such as salmonella, camphylobacter or shigella.

Is Gastroenteritis Dangerous?

The major problem with gastroenteritis is dehydration (drying out). This occurs when your child loses too much fluid from the diarrhoea and vomiting.

Increasing the amount of liquid intake for your child can prevent dehydration.

How Do I Tell If My Child Is Dehydrated?

Features that may suggest dehydration include not passing urine, loss of weight, tiredness, dry tongue, eyes and lips and increasing heart rate.

Does My Child Need Any Medications For Is Infection?

Majority of children with gastroenteritis do not need any medication.

The main treatment is to ensure your child remains well hydrated.

Occasionally, your doctor may give you some medication for stomach pain or vomiting.

Generally, medications used to stop diarrhoea in adults are not used in children due to side effects.

Diarrhoea - Symptoms

Diarrhoea - How to prevent?

​Is There Any Way To Prevent My Child From Getting Diarrhoea?

  • It is difficult to prevent your child from coming into contact with germs that cause gastroenteritis.
  • These germs are present in the community all the time.
  • However, good hygiene habits will minimise the risk of spreading the infection.
  • For newborns and infants, bottle hygiene is very important. Milk bottles need to be sterilised either by boiling or with the use of sterilising tablets.
  • For other children, handwashing before meals and good toilet habits should be taught.
  • Vaccination against rotavirus infection for young baby is available.

Diarrhoea - Causes and Risk Factors

Diarrhoea - Diagnosis

Diarrhoea - Treatments

Diarrhoea - Preparing for surgery

Diarrhoea - Post-surgery care

Diarrhoea - Other Information

Home Care

Children less than 12 months old

Breast fed babies: Continue breast-feeding and feed more often.

Formula fed babies:

  • Continue feeding your baby with his formula milk.
  • If diarrhoea persists for more than 10 days, you may consider switching to soy formula or lactose-free formula milk.
  • Do not feed your baby water only.
  • If your child is persistently vomiting, bring him to see a doctor.

Children more than 12 months old

  • Stop solids and offer fluids to your child.
  • Ensure that your child continues to take sufficient fluids.
  • If your child is not vomiting, ensure hydration by increasing his fluid intake. You may use oral rehydration solution like Pedialyte or Hydralyte. These solutions are best served cold and may even be frozen to 'ice sticks'. Alternatively, you may use rice water or barley water. Fruit juice should be diluted with 1 cup to 4 cups of water.
  • When the nature and frequency of the stools improve, you can slowly reintroduce the normal feeds.
  • If your child is vomiting, you can give him a trial of small but frequent clear feeds. For example, you may start with 10 ml of fluid every 10 - 15 minutes for one hour. If he can tolerate this, you can increase the volume by 10 ml each subsequent hour.
  • If your child is persistently vomiting, bring him to see a doctor.
The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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