Diarrhoea is a very common occurrence in children. There are many causes of diarrhoea, including a change in diet, too much fruit juice or fibre, teething, a side effect of an antibiotic or a viral infection. While a chronic case of diarrhoea may need to be treated by a physician, most acute cases can be treated at home.
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Diarrhoea is the body's natural method for releasing bacteria and toxins. For this reason it is best to let it run its course. In fact, giving your child medication to stop diarrhoea may actually interfere with her body's natural healing process. There are things you can do, however, to help your child feel better and aid her body in healing, without interfering with the immune system's important job. The most important way to start is to be sure your child is constantly drinking clear fluids that are free of caffeine.
Give your child yoghurt to eat if you think her diarrhoea may be caused by a viral infection. Yoghurt contains lactobacillus acidophilus, which is a good bacteria that naturally fights bad bacteria. Lactobacillus acidophilus is also available in supplement form; you can find children's chewable acidophilus tablets, acidophilus strawberry liquid and children's acidophilus powder at your pharmacy or health-food store.
Modify your child's diet to speed the natural recovery process. If you have a baby, give him baby foods like carrots, rice cereal, bananas, potatoes, yoghurt and applesauce. Avoid giving him fruit juices, peas, pears, peaches, plums, prunes or apricots. If your child is older, give her foods like cheese, crackers, bread, rice and potatoes. Avoid giving her fruits or dairy products, with the exception of yoghurt.
Natural remedies are another option for helping your child recover from diarrhoea. Try giving her one tablespoon of apple-cider vinegar every hour until her stool is no longer loose. Vinegar not only helps to ease the diarrhoea, but also replenishes potassium and magnesium. Bananas, blueberries and bilberries are also natural remedies for diarrhoea. To help soothe irritated intestines, add one tablespoon of carob powder to applesauce or yoghurt. Drinking blackberry or ginger tea can also bring some relief. Finally, apply a heating pad to your child's abdomen if he complains of cramps.
If natural remedies do not work, you may eventually want to try an over-the-counter medication. Pepto Bismol and Kaopectate help to stop diarrhoea, control cramping and alleviate pain and abdominal contractions. These two medications contain aspirin, however, which can cause Reye's Syndrome if given to a child who has the flu or chicken pox. For this reason, do not give either medication to a child under 16 years of age. Follow dosage on the label.
Diarrhoea can quickly lead to dehydration, especially in children. This can be dangerous or even fatal. Give your child an electrolyte drink to aid in the prevention of dehydration. Contact your physician if any of the warning signs exist: no urination (no wet diapers), crying without tears, skin loses elasticity, dry mouth, sunken fontanelle, lethargy or listlessness. You should also contact your physician if your child's diarrhoea lasts more than one week, if there is severe abdominal pain or vomiting, or you see blood in the stool.
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