It’s 9pm and your child’s diarrhea has been ongoing for a few hours. What do you do? It’s very normal to question whether you should call the doctor, go to the ER or wait until morning. Take a deep breath, follow these guidelines and trust your instincts. You know your child better than anyone!
“The most important aspect of treating diarrhea is knowing the signs of dehydration and taking steps to rehydrate the child,” says Dr. Benjamin Ortiz, a pediatrician in the FDA’s Office of Pediatric Therapeutics. If loose, watery stools last for more than one day, younger children run the risk of dehydration. Indicators of dehydration include dry lips, mouth or tongue, no tears when crying, no wet diapers for 3 or more hours or a faster heartbeat than normal. If you suspect dehydration has begun, call your doctor.
Yes, there are anti-diarrheal over-the-counter medications that can help older children and adults, but they could actually be harmful to infants and toddlers. These medications contain ingredients that can quickly accumulate in young children’s bodies. Instead, try to get your infant or toddler to continue to drink fluids and eat a regular diet. If diarrhea persists, electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte, Naturalyte or Enfalyte may be easier to digest than the regular diet. These products come in liquid or popsicle form and many different flavors. Don’t give children sports drinks for rehydration because they contain a high sugar content and can actually contribute to diarrhea.
If your child is also persistently vomiting, and can’t hold down an electrolyte solution, call your pediatrician or go to the ER. You should also seek medical help if your child has a fever of 102 degrees or higher, stools that are black and tarry or stools containing blood or pus.
If your child needs to see a specialist, you can rest assured that the GI Pediatric Division is the most qualified. We realize that children have gastrointestinal diseases that are different from adults and require a unique approach. Our team consists of two pediatric gastroenterologists, a nurse practitioner, registered nurses and medical assistants. Our pediatric gastroenterologists are specifically trained to help children with gastrointestinal disorders. They have dedicated nurses and staff members to make the pediatric patient and family feel more at ease. You can find out