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There is no other way of saying it, but we all poop. It’s something every person does and believe it or not, your stool says a lot about your health. With that being said, your child may have a tough time expressing this because of their lack of knowledge and they may be embarrassed to talk about it. It is important for you as the parent to be aware of your child’s bathroom habits so you know if they are ill or if you need to take them to see their healthcare provider. This may not be the most fun information to learn, but it is very important.
Diarrhea is when stools are loose and watery. When experiencing diarrhea, your child may also need to go to the bathroom more often. Diarrhea is a common problem. It may last 1 or 2 days and go away on its own. If diarrhea lasts more than 2 days, your child may have a more serious problem and should be seen by their healthcare provider.
The symptoms your child may experience when they have diarrhea can vary depending on if it’s mild or severe and what the cause of diarrhea might be. Sometimes there is a correlation between serious cases of diarrhea and a medical condition that has gone untreated. It can be tricky because your child may experience all these symptoms or only a few. The main symptom of diarrhea is a loose or watery stool, but other symptoms may include bloating nausea, and an immediate need to use the bathroom. In more serious cases your child may experience fever, weight loss, dehydration, severe pain, and blood in the stool. Severe diarrhea can lead to significant complications and if your child is experiencing these symptoms, call their healthcare provider and seek medical attention.
Believe it or not, there are several different ways to categorize diarrhea.
Acute diarrhea: The most common form. Acute diarrhea is loose watery diarrhea that lasts one to two days. This type doesn’t need treatment and it usually goes away after a few days.
Persistent diarrhea: This type of diarrhea generally persists for several weeks, anywhere from two to four weeks.
Chronic diarrhea: Diarrhea that lasts for more than four weeks or comes and goes regularly over a long period of time is called chronic diarrhea.
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about their symptoms and health history. They will then give your child a physical exam and if need be, your son or daughter may have lab tests to check their blood and urine. Outside of that, some other tests may include image testing to rule out certain diseases, blood tests, and a stool culture to check for abnormal bacteria or parasites in your child’s digestive tract. This requires a small stool sample to be taken and sent to a lab.
There is also something called a sigmoidoscopy. This test lets the healthcare provider check the inside of your child’s large intestine. This helps to tell what is causing diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation, abnormal growth, and bleeding. The tube is put into your child’s intestine through the rectum, then the tube blows air into the intestine to make it swell.
Identifying the cause of diarrhea can be very difficult, however, the most common cause is typically when a virus infects your bowel. This usually lasts a couple of days and sometimes you’ll hear it being referred to as the intestinal flu. Some other ways your child may have diarrhea would be due to infections by bacteria or pre-formed toxins, eating certain foods, allergies, medications, and in some cases radiation therapy.
Dehydration is the biggest issue when talking about diarrhea. This is more likely the case with young children and those with a weakened immune system. Their dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe. Mild dehydration is the loss of fluid and moderate or severe dehydration puts stress on the heart and lungs. In severe cases, it can lead to shock, which is life-threatening.
Children with viral diarrhea will usually have a fever and may vomit. Soon after these symptoms appear, children will experience diarrhea. It is important to note that part of treating diarrhea is preventing your child from becoming dehydrated.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Dehydration is the major concern with diarrhea and in most cases, treatment includes replacing lost fluids. Antibiotics may be prescribed when bacterial infections are the cause. Children should drink lots of fluids that replenish lost body fluids. If your child is dehydrated, be sure to offer drinks called glucose-electrolyte solutions. These fluids have the right balance of water, sugar, and salts. They should also avoid juice or soda and make sure not to give too much plain water to kids of any age.
When taking over-the-counter drugs, it is important to always follow the instructions. The rules for managing diarrhea in an adult are different than in children, making it important to always call your child’s healthcare provider before giving your child any type of medication for diarrhea.
If your child has severe diarrhea, call their healthcare provider. Young children are at a higher risk of dehydration than adults and you can’t treat a child’s diarrhea the same way you would treat an adult. Over-the-counter medications can be dangerous in young children, and their healthcare provider should manage all diarrhea treatments in children. It’s important to keep your child hydrated. Their provider will decide what is the best way to make sure they stay hydrated, but options often include breast milk, formula, and beverages with electrolytes (for older children, not babies).
In extreme cases of diarrhea, your child may become very dehydrated and because of this, have serious complications. As stated before, dehydration is one of the most harmful side effects of diarrhea and in infants and small children, this can have serious consequences.
If your child has diarrhea that doesn’t seem to improve or resolve completely, you should call their healthcare provider. Pay attention to any other symptoms they may be experiencing which might include fever, vomiting, rash, weakness, numbness, lightheadedness, dizziness, weight loss, and blood in your stool.
At the end of the day, your child’s diarrhea is most likely nothing more than a stomach bug or a bad belly ache. Even though there is a chance it may be something more serious, over-the-counter drugs and plain food complimented with plenty of fluids should do the trick and have your child feeling healthy in no time. But if your little one doesn’t seem to be healing back to their normal selves, our trained staff at Chai Care will be happy to offer our expert advice and top-notch service!
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.Dec 27, 2022
We can all recall a time when we as children had awful stomach pain or aches. Chances are you were hunched over, gripping your stomach in agony, claiming someone was stabbing your intestines with a knife. Dramatic and exaggerated, but when you’re a kid, everything is theatrical. Some of those incidents were no big deal. Just a minor cramp or nausea from eating too much candy before bed, but other times it may have been serious, so much so that medical attention was needed due to a parasite or appendicitis. Abdominal pain in children can vary from minor to major in the blink of an eye, which is why it is so important to be vigilant of the signs and symptoms.
If your child is experiencing stomach pain, it is most likely due to indigestion, constipation, stress, irritable bowel syndrome, appendicitis, or a stomach bug. These are the most common complaints that a child will have regarding stomach issues and fortunately, over counter drugs or a quick visit to your healthcare provider will help. However, stomach pain is more complicated than you might think. Depending on where the child is feeling the pain, this can change the diagnosis and the severity of the injury.
Stomach pain around the belly button is the most common complaint among children and in most cases, the least significant. The culprit of this discomfort is typically attributed to stress or eating something unagreeable. The best action to take for your child who is struggling with this would be to encourage them to rest, check to see if they need to poop, suggest drinking a glass of water, or offer a distraction of sorts. Reading a soothing story or playing a light-hearted game can take their mind off the pain and before they know it, they’ll forget all about it!
Pain in the lower right side of the abdomen can be much more serious, potentially hinting that your child may have appendicitis. Appendicitis is a serious medical emergency that can cause sudden, severe pain in the lower right part of your child’s stomach. If your child complains of stomach pain that moves to the lower right side of the belly, watch for other symptoms including fever, nausea, vomiting, difficulty passing gas, loss of appetite, constipation, and diarrhea. If you suspect that your child has appendicitis, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Early diagnosis decreases the risk of a ruptured appendix or serious complications.
If your child is complaining about pain on the left side of their stomach, it could be caused by constipation or a more severe condition like pancreatitis. Most of the time, stomach pain on the left side is due to something mild, like constipation. Rarely, it can be a sign of something more serious. Your child’s healthcare provider can work with you to better understand the pain and symptoms your child experiences to ensure they receive an accurate diagnosis.
If your child is complaining about pain in their upper abdomen, they may be experiencing indigestion. Telltale signs of indigestion include pain in the upper belly, nausea, bloating, burping, and heartburn. It is also worth mentioning that if your child has pain in the upper right side of their abdomen, this could also be a sign of gallstones. Gallstones are more common in adults than in children, but some children may be more at risk for developing gallstones, including children with obesity, children with certain health conditions including sickle cell disease, and children with a family history of gallstone disease.
This is a general term that describes discomfort in children’s upper abdomen. Common symptoms include pain or burning in the area between the breastbone and navel or bloating in the upper abdomen. Most of the time, indigestion will go away on its own and is not considered serious. Prepare smaller meals and try a bland diet. Talk with their healthcare provider if the discomfort persists.
This is an infection marked by watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, pain, and nausea or vomiting. Seek medical attention if your child has a fever of 100.4 F or higher, bloody diarrhea, or significant pain or discomfort. The most important thing to do is to stay well-hydrated.
Constipated children have infrequent bowel movements or hard, dry stools. They may frequently complain of a stomachache, bloating, or discomfort. Talk with their primary care provider if they don’t want to eat, are losing weight, have bloody stools, or are having repeated episodes of constipation.
When children are stressed or anxious, their bodies release the hormone cortisol into the blood. This can trigger abdominal cramps and discomfort.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. It causes sudden pain that begins around the navel and then moves to the lower right abdomen. The pain worsens if children cough, walk or make other jarring movements. Appendicitis pain typically increases and eventually becomes severe. Appendicitis is a medical emergency, and these children should receive immediate medical attention.
Appendicitis is one of the more common reasons your child may need surgery. The appendix is a small, dead-end tube leading from a part of the bowel. If this tube gets blocked, it can cause an infection. Appendicitis can happen at any age but is rare in young children.
The pain often starts in the middle of the tummy and moves down low on the right side. The stomach becomes sore to the touch. This is often worse with coughing and walking around. A child with appendicitis often shows signs of being unwell such as fever, refusing food, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If you are concerned your child may be developing appendicitis, visit your healthcare provider. An operation is often needed to remove the appendix, although in some cases the problem will settle without surgery.
Intestinal obstruction is a blockage that prevents food or liquid from passing through children’s small intestines or colon. It could be caused by scar tissue, a twisting or narrowing of the intestine, or if they swallow an object. Common symptoms include abdominal pain that comes and goes and is located around or below the navel, constipation, inability to pass gas, swelling of the abdomen, or vomiting. Seek immediate medical attention if children are suspected to have an intestinal obstruction.
Typically, when the problem is obvious there are no tests needed. However, if tests are needed, they may include blood or urine tests, stool samples, or other special tests for further examination. If your child does undergo tests, the healthcare provider should explain the results to you. Some results may take several days to come back, and these results will be sent to your primary care physician.
Stomach pain in children is usually nothing to worry about. But, if your child experiences any of the following symptoms, take your little one to their healthcare provider: diarrhea, pain when urinating, unexplained weight loss, jaundice, blood in stool, and recurrent stomach pain with no clear cause. From there, a medical professional can help you determine how severe the illness is.
Your child’s treatment will depend on what your healthcare provider determines is causing their pain. Treatment may be as simple as sending your child home with advice to rest, take fluids and eat a bland diet. Other treatment options include hospital admission and surgery. A few general suggestions would be to make sure your child gets plenty of rest and have them drink plenty of clear fluids such as cooled boiled water or juice. Do not push your child to eat if they feel unwell. If they are hungry, have them eat bland food like crackers or bananas and place a hot water bag on their stomach.
If your child doesn’t seem to be getting any better and their symptoms have manifested into more severe signs such as vomiting, blood in urine or stool, painful skin rash, fever, or chills, then you should take your child to Chai Care to have them checked out by our skilled medical professionals.
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones may have.