Dealing with Diarrhea – a universal experience that is far from enjoyable for adults, children, or infants.

While many associate diarrhea with watery stools, its diagnosis is based on the volume or frequency of bowel movements throughout the day.

How diarrhea works — exceeding six stools per day qualifies as diarrhea, often attributed to factors such as viral or bacterial infections, excessive consumption of fruits or fruit juices, and inadequate intake of solid food.

Understanding the mechanism of diarrhea is crucial. Infections impact the stomach and small intestine, with a stomach infection causing vomiting and a small intestine infection leading to diarrhea.

Fluid absorption occurs in the small intestine. When an infection irritates its lining, proper fluid absorption is hindered, resulting in diarrhea.

Most commonly, viral infections cause diarrhea, typically lasting three to five days, the duration required for the small intestine to regenerate its infected lining.

For infants and children, the recommended approach to managing diarrhea is consistent fluid intake. If solid foods are part of the diet, opt for easily digestible options like bananas, bread, cereal, pasta, and, if age-appropriate, peanut butter.

For diapered children, applying diaper cream during each change forms a protective barrier, reducing the likelihood of diaper rash.

While diarrhea is typically an irritating but non-life-threatening condition, two signs warranting consultation with a physician are red or black stools (indicative of potential serious bacterial problems) and an excessive number of stools exceeding 20 per day, which may lead to dehydration.

Monitoring dehydration is paramount, with signs including lethargy, dry mouth, wrinkly lips, infrequent urination, and weakness. If any of these symptoms occur, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly, potentially necessitating IV fluids for the child. Contacting your pediatrician is advised in such situations.