- Drink 8 to 10 glasses of clear fluids every day. Water is best.
- Drink at least 1 cup of liquid every time you have a loose bowel movement.
- Eat small meals throughout the day, instead of 3 big meals.
- Eat some salty foods, such as pretzels, soup, and sports drinks.
- Eat some high potassium foods, such as bananas, potatoes without the skin, and fruit juices.
- Try to avoid greasy, processed or fast foods, such as white breads, pastries, doughnuts, sausage, and fast-food burgers.
- Limit or cut out milk and other dairy products if they are making your diarrhea worse or causing gas and bloating.
- You should also avoid fruits and vegetables that can cause gas. Some of these are broccoli, peppers, beans, peas, berries, prunes, chick peas, green leafy vegetables, and corn.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks.
- You can use an over-the-counter drink, such as Pedialyte or Infalyte. Do not water down these drinks.
- You can also try Pedialyte popsicles.
- Watered-down sports drinks, such as Gatorade, or chicken broth may also help. These can give your child important minerals they may be losing through their stool.
- Much less activity than normal (is not sitting up at all or not looking around)
- Sunken eyes
- Dry and sticky mouth
- No tears when crying
- Has not urinated for 6 hours
- Blood or mucus in their stool
- Fever that does not go away
- Stomach pain
- Diarrhea for more than 2 days
- Stools with an unusual odor or color
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blood or mucus in your stool
- A fever that does not go away
- Stomach pain
Diarrhea - self-care
Symptoms and Causes
Diarrhea is when you pass loose or watery stool. For some, diarrhea is mild and will go away within a few days. For others, it may last longer. It can make you feel weak and dehydrated (dried out). It can also lead to unhealthy weight loss. A stomach illness can cause diarrhea. Some medical treatments, such as antibiotics and some cancer treatments, can also cause diarrhea.Which of these statements about diarrhea in children is true?The correct answer is all of the above. Children with diarrhea often do not feel well, but mild cases may clear up in just a few days. More severe diarrhea may last longer. Changing what children with diarrhea eat and drink can help them feel better.It can be hard to tell if a baby has diarrhea.The correct answer is true. It’s normal for babies’ stools to be soft and loose, plus they have frequent bowel movements in their first couple of months. Babies who suddenly start having more bowel movements may have diarrhea. Other signs include having more than one stool per feeding and watery stools.Which of these can cause diarrhea in children?The correct answer is all of the above. Whatever causes their diarrhea, children need to drink plenty of fluids so they don’t get dehydrated. They also may need to change their eating habits for awhile. Ask your doctor before giving over-the-counter medicines for diarrhea. These drugs can make some infections worse.Diarrhea can irritate a baby’s skin. What will help prevent a rash?The correct answer is A, B and C. Changing baby's diaper often can help prevent a rash. Let your baby’s bottom air out after you remove a wet diaper. Before putting on a clean diaper, apply a diaper cream or ointment to help soothe a sore bottom. Comforting your baby will help your little one feel better, but it won't prevent a rash.Children with diarrhea can drink which of the following to replace lost fluids?The correct answer is all of the above. Popsicles and JELL-O are other good choices for clear fluids, especially when a child is vomiting. You can get a lot of fluids into your child slowly this way and not overfill the stomach. Infants should have breast milk or Pedialyte. Use watered-down formula only as a short-term treatment.There is no "best" diet for children with diarrhea.The correct answer is true. However, children usually tolerate bland foods better. In most cases, you should continue feeding your baby or child as usual. Most children can keep up with the nutrients lost through diarrhea if they eat more. Always continue breast-feeding or formula feeding babies.Yogurt with live active cultures may help children whose diarrhea is caused by:The correct answer is antibiotics. Diarrhea caused by antibiotics may get better when children eat yogurt with live active cultures. Check the label to make sure it’s the right yogurt. If the diarrhea doesn’t improve, check with the doctor to discuss changing or stopping the child’s antibiotic.Which of the following is a sign your child needs more fluids?The correct answer is all of the above. A child who needs water passes dark yellow urine and will urinate less. Call your doctor if your child starts to show signs of dehydration, has blood or mucus in the stool, a persistent fever, or stomach pain.Children can avoid getting diarrhea when traveling out of the country by only drinking:The correct answer is bottled water. When traveling in developing countries, you can also lower your chances of getting diarrhea by avoiding uncooked vegetables or fruits that don’t have peels, raw shellfish, and undercooked meat.This healthy habit can lower the risk for illnesses that cause diarrhea:The correct answer is all of the above. It’s never too early to start teaching children what they can do to stay healthy.
How to Relieve Diarrhea
These things may help you feel better if you have diarrhea:
Ask your doctor if you should take a multivitamin or drink sports drinks to boost your nutrition. Also ask about taking a fiber supplement, such as Metamucil, to add bulk to your stools.
Your doctor may also recommend a special medicine for diarrhea. Take this medicine as your doctor told you to take it.
Eating When You Have Diarrhea
You can bake or broil beef, pork, chicken, fish, or turkey. Cooked eggs are also okay. Use low-fat milk, cheese, or yogurt.
If you have very severe diarrhea, you may need to stop eating or drinking dairy products for a few days.
Eat bread products made from refined, white flour. Pasta, white rice, and cereals such as cream of wheat, farina, oatmeal, and cornflakes are okay. You may also try pancakes and waffles made with white flour, and cornbread, but don’t add to much honey or syrup.
Vegetables you may eat include carrots, green beans, mushrooms, beets, asparagus tips, acorn squash, and peeled zucchini. You should cook them first. Baked potatoes are okay. In general, removing seeds and skins is best.
Some desserts and snacks to try are Jell-O, popsicles, cakes, cookies, and sherbet.
Things You Should Avoid
You should avoid some specific kinds of foods when you have diarrhea:
Diarrhea in Young Children
Children who have diarrhea may have less energy, dry eyes, or a dry, sticky mouth. They may also not be urinating or wetting their diaper as often as usual.
Give your child fluids for the first 4 to 6 hours. At first, try 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of fluid every 30 to 60 minutes.
If you are breastfeeding your infant, continue to do so. If you are using formula, you may try using it at half strength for 2 to 3 feedings after diarrhea starts. Regular formula feedings can begin after this.
If your child throws up, decrease the amount of fluids you give them. You can start with as little as 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes.
When your child is ready for regular foods, try bananas, crackers, chicken, pasta, and rice cereal. Avoid dairy, apple juice, full-strength fruit juice, and fried foods.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your child’s doctor if your child has any of these symptoms:
Call your doctor if you have:
Bhutta ZZ. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 332.
Schiller LR, Sellin JH. Diarrhea. Diarrhea. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 15.
- Review date:
- May 12, 2012
- Reviewed by:
- Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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