Diarrhea affects individuals of all ages and sizes, but while it's more of an irritant in adults, toddlers and infants face serious repercussions without proper treatment. Because of their small bodies, toddlers, which comprise the ages of 12 to 36 months, are at risk of severe dehydration after just a day or two of diarrhea. Because of the health risk in this age group, you must treat the condition, whether it's due to gastroenteritis, malabsorption or simple indigestion, so that the toddler doesn't become dehydrated.
Speak with your pediatrician if the diarrhea persists for over three days; if the toddler has a fever; if your pediatrician has diagnosed your toddler with "failure to thrive" syndrome; or if your toddler has decreased energy, abdominal swelling or weight loss. Additionally, you should consult your pediatrician if your child exhibits dehydration symptoms, which include no wet diapers for over three hours, high fever, no tears when crying or a dry mouth and tongue, or if your toddler's stool is bloody or black.
Hydrate your toddler regularly. The best way to prevent dehydration in your child is to keep her drinking. If your toddler doesn't want to drink, be flexible and creative by offering him healthy frozen treats made of fruit juice or an oral electrolyte solution. Alternatively, try specially formulated gelatin treats. In extreme cases, consider using a mouth syringe filled with water or the electrolyte solution to administer the liquid.
Treat the underlying problem. For example, if it's just regular diarrhea or gastroenteritis, all you can do is ensure your toddler is hydrated. On the other hand, malabsorption due to an illness, such as celiac disease, requires changing your toddler's diet to remedy the problem. See your pediatrician for diet plans and advice.
Tips & Warnings
- No matter the underlying cause of the diarrhea, seek the advice of your pediatrician for your toddler's safety.
- According to UNESCO World Health, "more than 1.5 million children die from dehydration each year"; see the advice of your pediatrician immediately when you think your toddler shows symptoms of diarrhea.
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