Everything that parents should know about long lasting lose stool&Diarrhea in Children

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Dr .Hesham Farouk

 Specialist Pediatrician  -Aster Clinic Discovery Gardens & Arabian ranches

Overview

Diarrhea is a very common problem in children younger than age five. In developing or non-industrialized countries, multiple episodes of diarrhea can lead to serious problems such as malnutrition (poor nutrition). 

Diarrhea is an increase in the frequency and looseness of stools. If diarrhea persists for more than 4 weeks, it is considered chronic



So Diarrhea may be either:

  • Short-term (acute). Diarrhea that lasts 1 or 2 days and goes away. This may be caused by food or water that was contaminated by bacteria (bacterial infection). Or it may happen if your child gets sick from a virus.
  • Long-term (chronic). Diarrhea that lasts for a few weeks. This may be caused by another health problem such as irritable bowel syndrome. It can also be caused by an intestinal disease. This includes ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or celiac disease. Giardia may also cause chronic diarrhea.

 

When diarrhea lasts for several days, it can lead to dehydration. Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to dehydration caused by diarrhea.

During episodes of diarrhea, the body loses the fluids and electrolytes it needs to function correctly. Electrolytes are minerals that affect your muscle function, the amount of water in your body, and the acidity of your blood.

 

What causes chronic diarrhea?




There are many causes of chronic diarrhea. Some exist in healthy people, but others are diseases that need long term medical care. These are some of the causes:

  • Infections with bacteria or parasites
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, which is due to more rapid colon action that sometimes follows an infection
  • Toddler’s diarrhea, which is also from more rapid colon action and is often worsened by excessive juice
  • Milk and soy allergies in infants
  • Leakage of loose stool around constipated stool that is stuck in the rectum
  • Intolerance of lactose (from milk) or fructose (from fruit juice)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Celiac disease, which is damage to the small intestine from wheat protein

What are the symptoms of chronic diarrhea in children?

The main symptom of chronic diarrhea in children is passing loose, watery stools three or more times a day for at least 4 weeks.

Depending on the cause, children with chronic diarrhea may also have one or more of the following symptoms:



  • bloody stools
  • chills
  • fever
  • loss of control of bowel movements
  • nausea or vomiting
  • pain or cramping in the abdomen

Chronic diarrhea may cause malabsorption and may lead to dehydration.

What are the symptoms of malabsorption and dehydration in children?

MalabsorptionSymptoms of malabsorption may include

  • bloating
  • changes in appetite
  • gas
  • loose, greasy, foul-smelling bowel movements
  • weight loss or poor weight gain

Dehydration

Symptoms of dehydration may include

  • thirst
  • urinating less than usual, or no wet diapers for 3 hours or more
  • lack of energy
  • dry mouth
  • no tears when crying
  • decreased skin turgor, meaning that when your child’s skin is pinched and released, the skin does not flatten back to normal right away
  • sunken eyes, cheeks, or soft spot in the skull

How does the doctor determine the cause of my child’s diarrhea?

Your description of the problem combined with your child’s age provides the doctor with important information. The doctor may ask you some of these questions:

  • How long has the diarrhea been going on?
  • What do the stools look like?
  • Is there blood in them?
  • Does your child stool in the middle of the night?
  • Does your child have any other symptoms, like fever, pain or poor weight gain?
  • What does your child eat and drink?
  • Has your child been on antibiotics?
  • Does anyone else in the family have similar complaints?




Your doctor will also perform a physical exam on your child. However, more information may still be needed to determine the cause of the diarrhea. Some tests that might be ordered include stool studies to look for infection, blood tests, and endoscopy.

How is chronic diarrhea treated?




The treatment of your child’s diarrhea depends on the cause. Some conditions require only a change in diet, and others require medication. Children who have lost a significant amount of weight may need to have special attention paid to their nutrition. Your doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment for your child’s diarrhea.