Gastroenteritis aka Diarrhea

What is diarrhea?
Diarrhea means frequent, runny bowel movement. some people call it the “stomache flu”.
What causes it?
It is most cases diarrhea is mild and clears up in a few days.  Sometimes it can be more serious.
Is it serious?
In most cases diarrhea is mild and clears up in a few days.  Sometimes it can be more serious.
What are the signs that it could be serious?
·         Signs of dehydration such as sunken eyes, dry mouth, and drowsiness.
·         Vomiting that won’t stop.
·         Bloody or painful diarrhea.
·         Severe stomach pain.
·         High fever.
Remember: Call your pediatrician if your child has any of these signs!

What is the treatment?
For very mild diarrhea, no treatment is needed other than diet changes.  These changes include:
·         Stop giving milk and solid foods, especially if there is vomiting.  Give clear liquids such as:
For children under 12 months: Consider a rehydrating solution such as Pedialyte. For older children: Same as above, or use a variety of clear liquids or sports drinks.
Discuss with your child’s physician and avoid plain water or excessive fruit juices.
In most cases, clear liquids should not be used for more than 1 day.  Soy formula may be recommended instead of clear liquids.
If there is vomiting, use frequent small feeding (1-2 oz. every hour for young infants and 2-4 oz. for older children), and gradually increase as tolerated.  Children with diarrhea will tend to have a bowel movement every time they drink or eat something.  If the child is not vomiting, it may help to give larger portions at each feeding to help “slow down” the number of bowel movements.
·         After the vomiting has stopped for several hours you may give your child as many liquids as they want for 1-2 hours and then advance them to a diet high in complex carbohydrates. Be careful about giving too much fat or protein.
·         From then on, slowly start back on his regular diet over 1 to 2 days.
What about medicines for diarrhea?
In most cases diarrhea can be controlled just by changing the diet.  Medications are generally not necessary.