Most infants experience bouts of diarrhoea from time to time. Most times diarrhoea does not cause any lasting harm to an infant. However, young infants around the age of five months should be closely monitored for dehydration when diarrhoea occurs. Dehydration in infants can become serious if not treated effectively.
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Infant diarrhoea may indicate the presence of a viral or bacterial intestinal infection. Also, diarrhoea may occur as a result of a food intolerance or food allergy. Caregivers should consult a physician any time diarrhoea lasts for more than a week.
Infant diarrhoea typically appears runny and may be greenish-brown in colour. Also, often times infant diarrhoea smells foul. An infant may have diarrhoea if bowel movements occur about two times more often that usual.
Diarrhoea may accompany an ear infection. Also, antibiotics often cause diarrhoea in young infants.
Caregivers should be careful to monitor the infant's diaper area for signs of irritation. Diarrhoea often causes painful rashes which can be treated with diaper rash ointments.
When diarrhoea occurs, caregivers may want to eliminate dairy products and juice for a short time and offer either soy-based formula or an electrolyte solution until the diarrhoea subsides. Breastfeeding mothers should continue to breastfeed normally. Some 5-month-old infants may be eating solids foods. In this case, caregivers can continue to offer the infant bananas and rice cereal. Parents may also want to keep a chart detailing the number of stools along with a description of each and also note any other symptoms. This chart will be beneficial if a doctor evaluates the infant.
In young infants, diarrhoea may lead to dehydration, which may be serious. Vomiting along with diarrhoea increases the risk of dehydration even more. Signs of dehydration include the absence of wet diapers, dry eyes, dry mouth and weight loss. Other signs that warrant a doctor's appointment include blood in the stools, unresponsiveness, lethargy, a fever higher than 38.3 degrees C and continual crying.
An infant should never be given an anti-diarrheal medication. These medications may be harmful to infants.
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