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The “Rumbly Tummy” Causes & Cures


Diarrhea occurs when stools are passed more frequent and loose than usual. How can you tell if your child has diar- rhea? Comparing your child’s current bowel pattern with their

typical bowel pattern helps. Normal stooling patterns depend on age.

A breastfed baby’s poop usually has a mustard-colored, watery, and seedy quality. Number of stools per day vary. A healthy breastfed baby can have one or two stools per week
or up to about 10 stools per day. By 18 months of age, most babies will have about one or two formed stools per day. Normally, stools are formed because liquid in the stool is reabsorbed through the large intestine’s lining. However, when the intestines get irritated like during an infection, the stool will go through the intestine quickly, causing liquid stools aka diarrhea.

Diarrhea lasting less than 2 weeks is considered acute. After two weeks, the condition is considered chronic. We will focus on acute diarrhea. This type of diarrhea can be caused by infection of the gut from a virus, bacteria or parasite. Other

symptoms may include fever, vomiting, and tummy pain. Most cases of acute diarrhea get better with time, but some cases can be serious. Contact your child’s doctor if you see any of these symptoms: dehydration, bloody stools, vomiting green contents, or diarrhea lasting more than 2 weeks.

The main treatment of acute diarrhea is maintaining hydra- tion. Infants need small, frequent amounts of special elec- trolyte solutions (such as, Pedialyte), formula, or breastmilk. Avoid giving water as it provides no sugar or electrolytes. Solid intake is not as important if your child’s appetite is low, as long as fluid intake is maintained. Restricting solids or following special diets is not necessary. Antidiarrheal medications are not recommended because they do not cure the problem and can mask symptoms. Usually, antibiotics are not needed but

it may be necessary in certain bacterial or parasitic infections if stool cultures confirm the infection. Probiotics has been shown to help shorten the duration of acute viral diarrhea.

Seek advice from your doctor to determine if it is appropriate for your child.

Becky Biqi Chen was a resident in general pediatrics for three years at the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre. She is currently specializing in pediatric gastroenterology during her fellowship at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital.


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