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Diarrhea - what to ask your doctor - child

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.

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?

Alternate Names

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

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.

Update Date: 12/4/2013

Updated 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.

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