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Toddler suffering from loose motion. What should be done?

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My 6 months old baby is suffering from loose motions since two days. no other complaints.
Posted Fri, 19 Apr 2013 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Taher Kagalwala 53 minutes later

An illness that is considered one of the most common is gastroenteritis ... an infection of the gastro-intestinal tract due to various kinds of microbes, most often, viruses. In gastroenteritis, or GE, the child usually has either vomiting with loose motions, or just loose motions, depending on whether the stomach is infected along with the intestines, or not.

This is one of the most common infections in children in India. The illness is self-limiting, that is, it resolves on its own within a week, or at most, two weeks. During the illness, the main problems are as follows:

passage of frequent loose motions causes strain on the care-takers to keep running to change the nappies

the loss of water and electrolytes from the body needs to be replenished by giving the baby frequent small sips of a sugar-salt solution or ORS

fever due to the above losses needs to be monitored and treated with paracetamol and further administration of ORS

there is peeling and redness of the skin around the anus due to the passage of frequent infective stools, leading to pain, and often to secondary infection by fungi ... this needs to be prevented by gentle cleaning of the stools area, frequent powdering with anti-fungal powders, immediate changing of soiled nappies, drying of the nappy area before putting a new nappy, and application of soothing barrier creams and anti-fungal creams after consulting a doctor

the child, because she is ill, often refuses to feed well, so we need to give her feeds more often and with more attention and love

some children become restless and irritable (cry constantly because of dehydration, fever, rashes in the anus area, abdominal colic or hunger) ... so we need to identify the problem and tackle it

Having said the above, let me assure you that most children tolerate GE rather well, with none of the above complications or troubles. All you need to do is to give her frequent sips of ORS and small but nourishing quantities of light food like idlis, potatoes, khichri, soups, etc.

The following symptoms, should they occur, indicate that all is not well or that the child has developed some new complication, and you should take her to the pediatrician immediately:

High fever
Blood in stool
Severe pain while passing stool
Redness with extensive peeling of the skin around the anus
Incessant vomiting
Failure to take ORS or food for more than a few hours
Sunken eyes and dry skin and mouth
Not passing urine for more than four hours

If none of these occur, you can manage her at home with the above treatment. If, however, you need reassurance that no major problem is occurring, take her tomorrow to her pediatrician. (Or sooner, if the need in your mind or that of your family members is too high).

I trust you found the above answer useful. I pray that your kid gets well soon ...

With best wishes,

Dr. Taher Kagalwala, M.D., Pediatrician
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