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Child suffering from loose stool, stomach ache and headache. Effective treatment?

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Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 15761 Questions

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Posted on Sat, 9 Feb 2013 in Digestion and Bowels
Question: Hi, my 3 year old daughter has been sick every night since Thursday and has had sulphur (eggy) burps and breath since then also. Her stools are also quite loose and of a pale yellow color... She just wants to sleep. She is barely eating anything and not drinking much either... During the day she has small energetic bursts but soon returns to her sleepy state and grumpy. Complaining of a sore head and sore stomach. What can I do?
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Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 1 hour later
HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

In some children complaints of loose stool are concerning because they are losing fluid via the stool, which can quickly result in dehydration. The lethargy that you are describing may be as a result of fluid loss combined with fighting the illness itself.
Loose stools usually occur as a result of enteritis which is inflammation of the intestinal lining, usually by a viral infection though bacterial infections can occur as well.
Normally treatment consists mainly of fluid management to reduce the risk of dehydration, she may not want to eat and that is ok, but she needs to drink.
Normally oral rehydration fluids are recommended because they provide not just liquids but the electrolytes that are loss in the stool. She may not want or be able to tolerate large amounts at one time , you can give her small amounts ( tbs), wait a few minutes then give some more and continue like this.
A doctor normally calculates exactly how much fluid a child needs based on their weight and the degree of dehydration based on the history and examination findings.
Symptoms and signs of dehydration would be reduced urination, dry skin, increased pulse rate, tenting of the skin (when skin pinched gently up- remains in this position), dry eyes and mouth, excess drowsiness
The malodorous burps are because her stomach and intestinal lining are irritated.

The pale stools can sometimes be related to lack of bile in the stool (bile is the reason for the normal brown colour). Lack of bile can occur if there is anything obstructing its flow. In these cases the urine may also appear darker (in your daughter's case her urine may be concentrated and this would be the reason for the darker appearance)
At your daughter's age and based on the lack of fluid intake, drowsiness , it would be best , if possible to have her assessed by her doctor.
She needs to have an abdominal examination and assessment of her hydration status.

hope this helps and your daughter feels better soon, feel free to ask any additional questions

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Michelle Gibson James 13 hours later
Hi, thanks for your reply.
She's pretty much the same today, having small sips of water every half hour or so... The only difference today is that although the house is very warm she seems to be cold... Her hands and feet mainly... She doesn't have a rash of any sort but is saying that her belly is sore as well as her head. Her stools are now very little but pretty much like water. She's coughing quite a bit also. She doesn't have a temperature but calpol has been given to try ease her headache... So far she just wants to lie on the sofa with her XXXXXXX and watch tv. Other than calpol is there anything else I can do for her? I feel helpless
doctor
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 9 hours later
HI

It is understandable that you feel helpless,it is very difficult to watch our children battle illness.
Sips of water every half hour is not likely to enough to maintain her hydration status if she is still having watery stools. It would be best to use rehydration fluids because water is just replacing the liquids not the electrolytes she would have loss in the stool. She needs the fluids (small sips or more if she would tolerate it ) every 5 to 10 minutes depending on her state of hydration.
AS stated this is determined by history (amount of urine she is passing) and examination by a doctor.

It would be best if she saw a doctor for a through assessment because of her young age - to examine her abdomen and hydration.

Feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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