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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- Does having diarrhea mean my child has a more serious medical problem?
- When should I call the doctor?
What to ask your doctor about diarrhea - child; Loose stools - what to ask your doctor - child
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.
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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.