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Diarrhea - what to ask your doctor - child

Definition

Diarrhea is when your child has more than three very loose bowel movements in 1 day. For many children, diarrhea is mild and will pass within a few days. For others, it may last longer. It can make your child feel weak and dehydrated. It can also lead to unhealthy weight loss.

A stomach or intestinal illness can cause diarrhea. It can also be a side effect of medical treatments, such as antibiotics and some cancer treatments.

Below are questions you may want to ask a doctor or nurse if your child has diarrhea.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about diarrhea - child; Loose stools - what to ask your doctor - child

Questions

FOODS

  • What foods can make my child's diarrhea worse? How should I prepare the foods for my child?
  • If my child is still breastfeeding or bottle feeding, do I need I stop? Should I water down my child's formula?
  • Can I feed my child milk, cheese, or yogurt? Can I give my child any dairy foods?
  • What type of bread, crackers, or rice is best for my child?
  • Can I feed my child any sweets? Is artificial sugar OK?
  • Do I need to worry about my child getting enough salt and potassium?
  • Which fruits and vegetables are best for my child? How should I prepare them?
  • Are there foods my child can eat to prevent too much weight loss?

FLUIDS

  • How much water or liquid should my child drink during the day? How can I tell when my child is not drinking enough?
  • If my child will not drink, what are other ways to get my child enough fluids?
  • Can my child drink anything with caffeine, such as coffee or tea?
  • Can my child drink fruit juices or carbonated drinks?

MEDICINES

  • Is it safe to give my child medicines from the store that may help slow the diarrhea down?
  • Do any of the medicines, vitamins, herbs, or supplements my child is taking cause diarrhea?
  • Are there medicines I should stop giving my child?

MEDICAL CARE

  • Does having diarrhea mean my child has a more serious medical problem?
  • When should I call the doctor?

References

Bhutta ZZ. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 332.

Schiller LR, Sellin JH. Diarrhea. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtrana's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 15.


Review Date: 12/4/2013
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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