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What causes diarrhea?

Diarrhea is most commonly caused by germs infecting the gut, and most episodes last 5-7 days. Fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and dehydration may or may not accompany diarrhea. Viruses, bacteria and parasites can all cause diarrhea, but viruses are the most commonly implicated.

How to treat diarrhea?

Avoiding dehydration: As diarrhea is body’s mechanism to take care of the infection, the primary concern is to replace the water, glucose and electrolytes lost in stools. Fluids that contain these substances should be administered to the child, such as prepared re-hydration solutions, chicken or beef broth,lemonade, buttermilk and cereal based broths.

Tackling vomiting: Give small, frequent sips of liquids half hour after giving the Vomiting medication. Once the child is able to hold down liquids, proceed to give a bland, soft diet.


Diet in diarrhea: Never force the child to eat. The child should be given several small meals throughout the day instead of 3 big meals.Bland foods, should be preferred. The BRAT diet
(Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast) represents some of theses food groups. Cereal based foods, such as cooked daliya, khichdi, kheer and cooked vegetables, such as carrots, green beans, beets can be given as well. Avoid giving high-fat and protein-rich foods. Low-fat milk can be given, especially when cooked with cereals. For infants, breastfeeding or regular formula should be resumed as soon as possible.

Antibiotics: These are not useful in viral diarrhea, and should be only used when prescribed by your doctor. Blood in stools is an important indicator for the need of antibiotics and should be mentioned to the doctor.

Drugs that slow or stop diarrhea: Though they control symptoms, these drugs slow the passage of the virus, bacteria, or parasite out of the body, and should not be given to children.


About the Author…

Dr. Monica Parakh is a certified pediatrician trained at KEM hospital and Wadia Children’s hospital. She has also received subspeciality training in Pediatric cardiology at Narayana Health. She has several publications and editorials in national and international peer reviewed journals. She is an avid healthcare educator and believes that patient-powered care is the future of healthcare.