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Is It Diarrhea If Your Baby Is Pooping More Often Than Usual?
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  • As parents, we deal with poop all the time! We know what our kids' poop typically looks like, how often they poop, and even the faces they make when they poop. My son stops whatever he's doing, stands still, and his face gets a little scrunched up. Then he says, “Mommy, poopoo. Change diaper."

    A few months ago, however, it seemed like he kept getting diarrhea. It was so bad he ended up in the hospital! Your kid has probably gotten diarrhea before. But do you know what causes it, and what you can do about it? Do you know the complications that could be connected with your kid's tummy ache?

    We talked to Dr. Abigail Pia L. Suntay, a pediatrician at Asian Hospital and Medical Center, to learn more about the causes and treatments diarrhea especially in babies and young kids.

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    What is diarrhea?

    According to Dr. Suntay, it's not diarrhea if your baby is just pooping more often than usual. "Frequent passage of formed stools is not diarrhea, nor is the passing of loose, pasty stools by breastfed babies. Diarrhea is usually defined as the passage of three or more abnormally loose or liquid stools per day." (Visually, your child's poop is likely closer to brown water.)

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    What causes diarrhea?

    There are several ways your child could get diarrhea. The doctor says, "Possible causes include a variety of bacterial, viral, and parasitic organisms. Infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking-water, or from person-to-person as a result of poor hygiene."

    Your child could actually get it from dirty food or water or putting dirty hands in his mouth. In our case, our son was drinking the water in his bathtub!

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    Are there complications that can arise from diarrhea?

    Or could diarrhea be a symptom of some other ailment? Diarrhea is one of those things that can happen to any child, but it can be dangerous.

    "The major complications arising from diarrhea, from any cause, include dehydration, electrolyte, or acid-base imbalance, which can be life-threatening. Children who experience frequent episodes of acute diarrhea or prolonged or persistent episodes are at risk for poor growth and nutrition, and complications such as secondary infections and micronutrient deficiencies (iron, zinc, vitamin A)."

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    It can also lead to some rare complications, like intussusception, toxic megacolon, intestinal perforation, rectal prolapse, Hemolytic Systemic Syndrome, pseudoappendicitis, liver abscess, ulcerative colitis, and a bowel perforation.

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    What are the different ways to treat diarrhea?

    Speedy diagnosis and treatment are critical. "Avoiding delays in diagnosis and treatment, and appropriate supportive care using either oral, enteral, or intravenous hydration is the key to the treatment of diarrhea. Diarrhea caused by viruses are usually self-limited and resolve after several days."

    We highly recommend you consult a health professional to manage persistent diarrhea, when there is blood in the stool, or if there are signs of dehydration.

    What is erceflora?

    A lot of doctors prescribe erceflora for kids with diarrhea. It's clear liquid in a vial, which contains two billion spores of Polyantibiotic-resistant Bacillus clausii. According to MIMS.com, "These spores are part of the normal intestinal flora" and "contribute to the restoration of the intestinal bacterial flora that has been upset by imbalances of various origins." Basically, erceflora puts the bacteria in the intestines back to normal.

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    Hydration is vital! Infants and toddlers are usually put on an intravenous drip in the hospital. "Rehydration with intravenous fluids in case of severe dehydration or shock," especially if diarrhea has been going on for a few days.

    At home, you can use oral rehydration salts (ORS). "ORS is a mixture of clean water, salt, and sugar. ORS is absorbed in the small intestine and replaces the water and electrolytes lost in the feces."

    Ask your doctor if you can try Hydrite (just add water) or Vivalyte, which is available in powder form or ready-to-drink liquid form.

    How can you prevent or avoid diarrhea?

    Your doctor may recommend zinc supplements, which "reduce the duration of a diarrhea episode by 25% and are associated with a 30% reduction in stool volume."

    Of course, a healthy diet is always essential. "The vicious circle of malnutrition and diarrhea can be broken by continuing to give nutrient-rich foods – including breast milk – during an episode, and by giving a nutritious diet – including exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life–to children when they are well."

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    Prevention is better than cure. So key measures to prevent diarrhea include:

    • access to safe drinking water
    • use of improved sanitation
    • handwashing with soap
    • exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life
    • good personal and food hygiene
    • health education about how infections spread
    • rotavirus vaccine

    Your child needs the rotavirus vaccine before he turns 1 year old. Read here why.

    Sources: 

    WHO

    Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics (21st edition)

    Johns Hopkins Medicine

    Caring for Kids

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

    Mayo Clinic

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