Acute Diarrhea in Babies

Acute diarrhea is quite common in children and babies, and is defined as three or more soft or liquid stools in 24 hours. In very serious cases, medical attention is required. Symptoms can vary from mild loose stool to watery, explosive diarrhea.

Babies with Acute Diarrhea

Diarrhea is usually viral in origin and accounts for more than 90% of cases. Rotavirus, a virus that can cause infections of the gastrointestinal tract and upper respiratory tract, is the most common. Diarrhea and vomiting, combined with a fever, can also be a sign of urinary tract infection, pneumonia, or meningitis. Viral diarrhea usually lasts two to three days.

Diarrhea caused by bacteria are usually due to food poisoning germs, such as Shigella, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. Vomiting and a high fever often accompany the diarrhea, and it sometimes requires antibiotic treatment.

The biggest danger of acute diarrhea is dehydration and weight loss.

N.B. It is essential to monitor the child's weight from the first signs of a bout of diarrhea. When it exceeds 5% of the baby's weight, it is urgent to seek medical advice.

Dehydration in Babies as a Result of Diahrrea

When weight loss reaches or exceeds 10% of a baby's weight, signs of dehydration appear. These symptoms include decreased urinary output, deep set eyes and circles under the eyes, fatigue, lethargy, dry tongue, and depressed fontanelles.

A baby that is dehydrated is thirsty and needs to drink. It is important for you to encourage your child to drink plenty. You should also continue with breast or bottle-feeding.

Giving a baby only water to drink will not, however, prevent dehydration. In addition to fluids, oral rehydration salts (ORS) are necessary. They can be purchased from a pharmacy, and you should follow the pack's instructions. ORS should be given frequently and after each watery stool, in small amounts.

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