Toddler Suffering from Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms and More!

Affecting children between the age group of 1 to 5 years, especially boys, toddler’s diarrhea is the common cause of chronic or persistent diarrhea in young children. It is not serious and will disappear when the child grows older. One of the causes of toddler’s diarrhea is that the diet of children in this age group is not ideal. The diarrhea can stop if proper amount of fat is included in the diet like whole milk; the intake of fruit juice or squash is reduced; and normal quantity of fiber is included in the toddler's diet.

What Causes Toddler Diarrhea?

There are various reasons causing diarrhea in toddlers. Some of the causes are given below:

1. Viral infection

Viruses like Rotavirus, Adenovirus, Calicivirus, Astrovirus and Influenza virus can cause diarrhea and associated symptoms like vomiting, chills, fever, abdominal pain and aches.

2. Bacterial infection

Diarrhea caused due to bacteria can be very severe and is often accompanied by cramps, blood in stools and fever. Some of the bacteria are Salmonella, Staph, E.coli and Shigella. Some of these infections can go away naturally; otherwise, bring your toddler to see a doctor, and a stool culture might be required for checking out any signs of bacterial infection.

3. Ear infection

Viral or bacterial ear infection can also cause diarrhea. The child pulls on the ear frequently and could possibly have had a cold recently. It is accompanied by nausea, vomiting and pain in the ear.

4. Parasites

Parasites in the bowel can cause diarrhea, like Giardiasis – a microscopic parasite. Along with diarrhea, there will be bloating, gas, nausea, cramps and greasy stools.

5. Antibiotics

If the diarrhea occurs during or after an antibiotic course, it could be due to the medicine, which kills good bacteria in the gut as well as bacteria causing problems. Alternative medicine should be requested to the toddler's doctor, and continue current medication till doctor you asks to do stop giving.

6. High juice intake

Fruit juice containing high amount of sorbitol or fructose can cause loose stools. Once the intake is reduced, the diarrhea will go away in a week.

7. Food allergy

When the immune system reacts abnormally to food proteins, it can cause swelling in the lips and face and cause blockage of airways. It can cause diarrhea, hives, abdominal pain, etc.

8. Food intolerance

Food intolerance is abnormal reaction to certain foods without the involvement of immune system, for example, Lactose intolerance, where lactase isn’t produced adequately in the body.

9. Poisoning

In case the baby has ingested some medicine or non-food item, he/she can have diarrhea, vomiting, breathing trouble or loss in consciousness. 911 should be contacted immediately.

10. Others causes

Multiple stools in a day with foul smell and mucus is also referred to as toddler diarrhea. Addition of new foods or change in diet can cause diarrhea and child will outgrow this condition in a few days.

What Are the Symptoms of Toddler Diarrhea?

Toddler diarrhea is when an otherwise healthy child, between the age group of 6 months to 5 years, has chronic diarrhea. The commonly seen symptoms are:

In case the following symptoms are exhibited, a pediatric GI specialist should be consulted:

How to Deal with Toddler Diarrhea

1. Remove Irritating Foods

Some foods known for causing diarrhea should be eliminated from the diet till the diarrhea resolves. Some of these foods are:

2. Determine How Severe the Diarrhea Is

It is important to determine if the diarrhea is causing dehydration in the baby. The baby can be weighed every day to determine any weight loss. If there is a weight loss of 5%, it indicates mild to moderate weight loss. Doctor should be consulted in case of any weight loss. Weight loss in one day is of more concern than if the same weight loss happens in one week. 10% weight loss is of serious concern.

3. Maintain a Diarrhea Record

When a record is maintained regarding the diarrhea symptoms and frequency, it becomes easy for the doctor to diagnose on the child’s condition. A sample chart could list the following:

4. Know Which Foods to Give the Toddler

The basic rule is to feed half the quantity, twice the number of times. Make your toddle sip the ice chips, Popsicles made from oral electrolyte solutions or white grape juice throughout the day if your child has mild symptoms of diarrhea. Other foods which can be administered to the child for mild diarrhea are:

For moderate and severe diarrhea the quantity and frequency will have to be modified. Doctor should be consulted.

5. Try Probiotics

This healthy bacteria live in our gut are also present in foods like yogurt. Probiotics are available with Lactobacillus in drug stores. When giving it to children, it can be mixed with other foods and given. It helps in reducing the duration and severity of diarrhea.

When to See a Doctor for Toddler Diarrhea

In case you observe any of the following symptoms, the physician should be contacted immediately:

For the below symptoms, the doctor can be called during work hours:

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