Management of Diarrhea
Most cases of diarrhea clear on their own within a couple of days without treatment.
Treatment to replace fluids
The best advice you can get from a doctor is to replace the fluids and salts.
Making children drink ORS is the best thing you can do at home to manage Diarrhea.
Water is a good way to replace fluids, but it doesn’t contain the salts and electrolytes — minerals such as sodium and potassium — that are essential for your body to function.
Using an oral rehydration solution helps to prevent dehydration or replace lost fluids.
Oral rehydration solution (ORS)
ORS packets contain the right amount of sodium, potassium, glucose, that are required to rehydrate your child’s body. You just have to mix it in clean boiled and cooled water and make your child drink it.
How to use ORS?
Please note the following points when preparing ORS:
- The utensil should be cleaned with soap and water.
- Do not mix ORS powder to boiling water. Mix it to boiled and cooled water only.
- Keep the solution covered for a maximum of 24 hours.
- Discard any leftover solution after 24 hours of preparation
Making your child drink ORS
- The difficult job resides with parents giving ORS to a child is not a walk in the park!
- Doctors role is to advise and prescribe but the parents have to do the real job
- ORS should be given in sips for over 1 or 2 hours. If the child is vomiting, stop for 30 mins and then try to give another 3 to 4 sips. Be very patient and continue the process till one full glass of ORS is finished. ‘Patience’ is the key here.
- In the case of infants, use a spoon to feed ORS. If your baby can drink from a cup, encourage him/her to take sips very slowly and try to finish 1 cup in 30 minutes.
The recommended ORS rehydration defers according to age groups. Normally one cup of ORS should be given after each loose stool. Otherwise, follow the below guidelines.
How to prepare oral rehydration solution at home?
If ORS packets are not available, you can prepare it at home as well.
- Clean Water – 1 liter – 5 cupful (each cup about 150-200 ml.)
- Sugar – Six level teaspoons (1 teaspoon = 5grams)
- Salt – Half level teaspoon
- Stir the mixture well till the sugar dissolves
Be careful to mix the correct amounts. Too much sugar can make diarrhea worse and too much salt can also be extremely harmful to the child.
Can the ORS solution be stored? The ORS solution should be covered and not kept for more than 24 hours, due to the risk of bacterial contamination.
Other home remedies
Apart from giving ORS, there are some other home remedies that you can try at home to manage your child’s Diarrhea. These include:
- Drink plenty of clear liquids, including water, and juices. Avoid caffeine. For example, rice water, tender coconut water, lime juice, vegetable soups, add a pinch of salt to these which is easily available at home and preparable solutions to make an effective alternative to Oral Rehydration Solution.
- Add semisolid and low-fiber foods gradually.
- Avoid certain foods such as dairy products like milk and cheese, cakes, sweets, cookies, candies, fatty foods, high-fiber foods for a few days. Certain fruit juices, such as apple juice, might make diarrhea worse.
- Mothers who are breastfeeding might need to adjust their own diet to avoid any foods that could trigger diarrhea in their babies.
- Continue breastfeeding as it is highly recommended.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap every time you change your baby’s diaper to prevent the infection from spreading
- Keep the diaper-changing area clean and disinfected
- Don’t use or buy “Anti-Diarrheal” medicines that are available over the counter. These medicines don’t treat the underlining cause of diarrhea and most of them are not safe for your child. It can only be used with a doctor’s prescription.
- Another common mistake parents make is that they hesitate to give normal foods to children when they have diarrhea. The only food items that need to be controlled are a diary, high fiber diet, fried foods, the regular food items must be given in small quantities even if they vomit after taking it.
When to see a doctor
In children, particularly young children, diarrhea can sometimes lead to dehydration. This is especially true if the diarrhea is combined with a fever or vomiting or both.
Consult your doctor if your child’s diarrhea doesn’t improve after 48 hours or if your baby:
- Hasn’t had a wet diaper in three or more hours
- Has a fever of more than 102 F (39 C)
- Has bloody or black stools
- Has a dry mouth or cries without tears
- Is unusually sleepy, drowsy, unresponsive or irritable
- Has a sunken appearance to the abdomen, eyes or cheeks
- Has skin that doesn’t flatten if pinched and released