Diarrhoea is a condition in which loose or watery stools are passed frequently. It occurs frequently in a large majority of weaned infants in the developing countries. The infecting organisms are of non pathogenic type.

It maybe dangerous. Infants are easily dehydrated as they lack the ability to express their feelings. See a doctor right away.

Children dehydrate easily. Do not rehydrate the child with fruit juice or water. Oral rehydration solution is perfect for them. Add a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt to a litre of clean water. But do not make a mistake by adding more salt. Do not overload the baby with salt. WHO has recommended the oral rehydration therapy. Commercial preparation is also available which can be used for the treatment. The osmolarity is 330 mmol/l. It contains glucose 111 mmol/l (20g/l) , sodium 90 mmol /l (sodium chloride 3.5g/l) , potassium 20 mmol/l (potassium chloride 1.5 g/l) , chloride 80 mmol/l , bicarbonate 30 mmol/l (sodium bicarbonate 2.5g/l)

Sufficient fluids are given to ensure 125 -400 ml urine (according to age) every six hours. It is advisable to give extra water rather than adding water to the solution.

If clean water is not available, two handfuls of rice powder with one teaspoon of salt cooked in one litre of water is equally good as ORS. This solution is nothing but Indian rice kanji.

Continue breastfeeding the child. Avoid any other milk for a day.

Slowly introduce a bland diet. Start with BRAT diet. These binding foods are suggested as the first to try after an episode of diarrhoea. BRAT diet is Banana, Rice,Applesauce,Toast. Bananas are easily digested and contains high level of potassium which help replace the electrolytes lost in the excessive elimination of fluids. Rice is high in complex carbohydrates tend to be bland and easily digest. Applesauce and bananas contains soluble fiber pectin and other nutrients the body needs. Because the apples are cooked they are easier to digest. These foods slow down the transit time of waste in the colon. Be sure to eat white rice and peeled potatoes as the bran layers of brown rice and the potato skin contains insoluble fiber that can actually worsen diarrhoea.

The biggest mistake people make that they don’t know when to stop the treatment. If the child is okay and having one or two watery stools a day , do not restrict the diet for long.

Carrots may help enhance recovery by replacing electrolytes and minerals lost during diarrhoea. Give the child potato carrot soup and dry toast. The soup delivers fluid and minerals without further irritating the intestinal mucous membrane. Potato carrot soup –

250 ml water

2 medium potatoes

1 carrot

1 pinch salt

Bring the water to the boil. Add the peeled and chopped vegetables. Cook over a low heat until tender, then puree and season with salt.

After the couple of days, yoghurt tends to repopulate the bowel with good bacteria. This is for the older children.

Diarrhoea can happen to anyone. The dietary suggestions is almost same for all the sufferers. Traveller’s diarrhoea and nervous diarrhoea are the two types which has to be dealt differently. Many patients resort to self imposed starvation which may be harmful. Adequate intake of fluids and electrolytes is very important. While travelling hot foods are safe to consume. Freshly prepared chapattis , rice , idli , toasted bread , freshly cooked vegetables, pulses or dals , eggs , meat and poultry, tea or coconut water is the safest options while travelling. Avoid uncooked foods , fruit salad, cold foods , cold desserts, curd , buttermilk, cold sweets or any food touched by hands before serving.

If vomiting accompanies diarrhoea, immediate medical attention is required.

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