Diarrhoea in Children: Causes And Treatments

source – NIH

Children with poor nutritional status and overall health, as well as those exposed to poor environmental conditions, are more susceptible to severe diarrhoea and dehydration than healthy children. 

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 14th February 2022.

Diarrhoea in Children: Causes And Treatments

Diarrhoea is a common symptom of gastrointestinal infections caused by a wide range of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and protozoa. What causes children to get diarrhoea more often than adults? What can you do to help your child feel better? Here are the causes of diarrhoea and how to cure it at home.

Diarrhoea in Children: Common Causes and Treatments

Diarrhoea is the body’s natural method of getting rid of pathogens, and most bouts last anywhere from a few days to a week. Fever, nausea, vomiting, cramping, dehydration, and even rashes may accompany diarrhoea. The following are some of the most frequent causes of diarrhoea in children:

  • Infection from viruses such as rotavirus, bacteria such as salmonella, and parasites such as giardia. The most frequent cause of diarrhoea in children is viruses. Symptoms of a viral gastroenteritis infection include vomiting, stomachache, headache, and fever, in addition to loose or watery faeces.

It’s critical to avoid fluid loss while treating viral gastroenteritis, which may persist anywhere from 5 to 14 days. Infants and young children should be given extra breast milk or an oral rehydration solution (ORS). The sodium, potassium, and other nutrients in the water are insufficient to rehydrate extremely young infants properly. Consult your doctor about the quantity of liquids your child needs, as well as how to ensure that they get them, when to provide them, and how to detect dehydration.

To remain hydrated, older children with diarrhoea may drink anything they choose, including ORS and brand-name goods (their names usually end in “lyte"). Popsicles are also an excellent method to get fluids into a child who has been vomiting and needs to rehydrate gently.

If you’ve recently been outside of the country, talk to your doctor; your child may need to have their faeces examined. Consult a doctor if the symptoms persist for more than two weeks.

Medications Laxatives and antibiotics, for example, may cause diarrhoea in both children and adults.

Keep your child hydrated if they have mild diarrhoea induced by medicine. If an antibiotic course causes your child’s diarrhoea, be sure to keep the medicine going and contact your doctor. Reduce the dosage, change your diet, add a probiotic, or switch to a different antibiotic, as recommended by your doctor.

According to studies, antibiotics-induced diarrhoea may be relieved by yoghurt containing living cultures or probiotics. Antibiotics destroy good gut bacteria. Therefore cultures and probiotics assist in replacing them.

  • Food poisoning In children may also induce diarrhoea. Symptoms typically appear suddenly, including vomiting, and disappear within 24 hours.

The treatment for diarrhoea induced by food poisoning is the same as that caused by infection: Keep your child hydrated, and if you have any concerns, contact your doctor.

  • Some examples are other causes of diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, food allergies, and celiac disease. Call your doctor if you’re not sure what’s causing your child’s diarrhoea.

source - happy family organics

Children and Diarrhoea: Recognizing Dehydration

One of the most concerning consequences of diarrhoea in children is dehydration. On the other hand, moderate or severe diarrhoea may result in substantial fluid loss.

Severe dehydration may lead to seizures, brain damage, and even death. Recognise the symptoms of dehydration. If your child develops any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor right once.

  • Light-headedness and dizziness
  • The mouth feels dry and sticky.
  • Urine that is dark yellow, or urine that is very little or none at all
  • When crying, there are little or no tears.
  • Skin that is cool and dry
  • Energy deficiency

When to Call a Doctor About Your Child’s Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea generally clears up after a few days, but it may be dangerous. Don’t hesitate to get assistance if your child exhibits any of these symptoms.

Call 911 if your child:

  • Is too frail to stand
  • Is it confused or dizzy?

Call your doctor right away if your child:

  • It seems that they are in poor health.
  • Has been sick for more than three days with diarrhoea
  • Are they under the age of six months?
  • Is the vomit bloody, green, or yellow?
  • Can’t keep fluids down or has vomited more than twice
  • Has a fever that lasts more than six months or is under the age of 6 months and has a temperature of more than 100.4° F (determined by a rectal thermometer)
  • He seems to be dehydrated.
  • Has bloody faeces
  • Is under a month old and has had three or more bouts of diarrhoea
  • Doesn’t drink enough and passes more than four diarrhoea stools in eight hours
  • Has a compromised immune system
  • Is there a rash?
  • Has been experiencing stomach discomfort for more than two hours
  • Has not urinated in 6 hours if a baby or 12 hours if a child

NOTE: If your baby develops a temperature of more than 38 degrees Celcius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), do not give them fever medication.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/children/guide/diarrhea-treatment 
  2. Seattle Children’s Hospital: “Should Your Child See a Doctor? Diarrhea."
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Viral Gastroenteritis."
  4. Children’s Hospital Colorado: “Diarrhea."
  5. National Institutes of Health: “Diarrhea in Children – Diet;" “Dehydration;" “Food Poisoning;" “Diarrhea;" and “Probiotics For Pediatric Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea: A Meta-Analysis Of Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trials."
  6. KidsHealth.org: “Infections: Diarrhea."

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