Diarrhea

In children, diarrhea is most commonly caused by a virus, and is often associated with vomiting and fever.

Dehydration is the most severe complication of diarrhea, and the treatment of diarrhea is mainly focused on preventing dehydration and replacing the lost fluids.

Offer a child with diarrhea plenty of fluids. Good examples include diluted juices, dairy products and soups. If the baby is breastfed, offer breast milk more frequently. Juices and soft drinks that are high in sugar are not recommended, because they can make the diarrhea worse. There are also various oral rehydration solutions available from pharmacies and other shops. Pharmacies sell Osmosal Novum and Floridral which come in sachets and are dissolved in water. Dicodral is a rehydration solution available from supermarkets. If you give your child oral rehydration solution, make sure to also offer him or her water.

Do not stop offering your child food. Instead, offer the child foods that are soft, easily digested and high in energy more often than usual. Administering Lactobacillus preparations (available in pharmacies) or cultured milk products (especially those with Lactobacillus GG) is recommended based on study results showing that they shorten the duration of diarrhea. Additional lactobacillus preparations are not necessary when taking Floridral, because the solution itself contains lactobacilli.

Seek medical advice if your child becomes dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include restlessness or unusual drowsiness, thirst, dry lips and tongue, sunken eyes, lack of tears when crying and weight loss. Rehydration is accomplished with oral rehydration solution (Osmosal Novum/Floridral/Dicodral) in 6 to 8 hours. During the administration of oral rehydration solution your child should not be fed. However, breastfeeding is continued as normal.

Prepare the oral rehydration solution according to the instructions on the package leaflet. Do not add other fluids to enhance its taste as these will diminish the rehydrating properties of the solution. The solution tastes best when refrigerated. You can pour the solution in a cup or a feeding bottle. However, administering the solution often requires the use of a spoon or syringe and persistent assistance from the parents. Give the solution slowly and in small doses (one sip or a spoonful every few minutes) to avoid vomiting. If the child vomits, wait for five minutes before you continue administering the solution, but at a slower rate than before.

When the child is rehydrated, continue offering the child regular food in small doses and at frequent intervals. During diarrhea approximately 80 % of the energy in food is absorbed. Therefore, offer your child food, although it might seem that it only results in stools being passed more often. Offer soft, easily digested foods that are high in energy (e.g. bananas, vegetable and fruit purees, soups, ice cream and cultured milk products).

Diarrhea typically continues, although the child is rehydrated. To prevent your child from becoming dehydrated, continue to offer him or her plenty of fluids and oral rehydration solution as instructed above (for children under 2 years: 0.5 dl per passing of watery stools; for children over 2 years: 1 dl per passing of watery stools).

Adult antidiarrheal medicines (e.g. Imodium, Lopex, Tannopon) are not suitable for children!

Offer antipyretics, if your child has a fever. Follow your physician's instructions. When fever subsides, your child is likely to feel better and rehydration is easier to accomplish.

Contact your physician if your child refuses fluids or if despite treatment the signs of dehydration become more serious, the child's overall health deteriorates or the amount of stools and vomiting greatly increases.​