Diarrhea, Child

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    Diarrhea, Child

    Diarrhea, Child

    Diarrhea is frequent loose and sometimes watery bowel movements. Diarrhea can make your child feel weak and cause them to become dehydrated. Dehydration is a condition in which there is not enough water or other fluids in the body. Dehydration can make your child tired and thirsty. Your child may also urinate less often and have a dry mouth.

    Diarrhea typically lasts 2–3 days. However, it can last longer if it is a sign of something more serious. In most cases, this illness will go away with home care. It is important to treat your child's diarrhea as told by the health care provider.

    Follow these instructions at home:

    Eating and drinking

    A bottle of clear fruit juice and glass of water.

    Follow these recommendations as told by your child's health care provider:
    • Give your child an oral rehydration solution (ORS), if directed. This is an over-the-counter medicine that helps return your child's body to its normal balance of nutrients and water. It is found at pharmacies and retail stores.
    • Give your child enough fluid to keep their urine pale yellow.
      • Have your child drink water and other fluids, such as diluted fruit juice and milk, to prevent dehydration. Sucking on ice chips is another way to get fluids.
      • Avoid giving your child fluids that contain a lot of sugar or caffeine, such as energy drinks, sports drinks, and soda.
    • Continue to breastfeed or bottle-feed your young child. Do not give extra water to your child.
    • Continue your child's regular diet, but avoid spicy or fatty foods, such as pizza or french fries.


    • Give over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your child's health care provider.
    • Do not give your child aspirin because of the link to Reye's syndrome.
    • If your child was prescribed antibiotics, give them as told by the health care provider. Do not stop using the antibiotic even if your child starts to feel better.

    General instructions

    Washing hands with soap and water.
    • Have your child wash their hands often using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, your child should use hand sanitizer. Make sure that others in your household also wash their hands well and often.
    • Have your child rest at home while recovering.
    • Have your child take a warm bath to relieve any burning or pain from frequent diarrhea.
    • Watch your child's condition for any changes.

    Contact a health care provider if:

    • Your child has diarrhea that lasts longer than 3 days.
    • Your child has a fever.
    • Your child vomits every time they eat or drink.
    • Your child feels light-headed, dizzy, or has a headache.
    • Your child has muscle cramps.
    • Your child starts to vomit.
    • Your child shows signs of dehydration, such as:
      • No urine in 8–12 hours.
      • Cracked lips.
      • Not making tears while crying.
      • Dry mouth.
      • Sunken eyes.
      • Sleepiness.
      • Weakness.
    • Your child has bloody or black stools or stools that look like tar.
    • Your child has pain in the abdomen.
    • Your child's skin feels cold and clammy.
    • Your child seems confused.

    Get help right away if:

    • Your child who is younger than 3 months has a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.
    • Your child has difficulty breathing or is breathing very quickly.
    • Your child has a rapid heartbeat.

    These symptoms may be an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get help right away. Call 911.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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