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Diarrhea in Children: Causes and Treatments

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Children and Diarrhea: Recognizing Dehydration

Dehydration is one of the most worrisome complications of diarrhea in children. Mild diarrhea usually doesn't cause significant fluid loss, but moderate or severe diarrhea can.

Severe dehydration is dangerous; it can cause seizures, brain damage, even death. Know the signs of dehydration. Call your doctor if your child has:

  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Dark yellow urine, or very little or no urine
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Cool, dry skin
  • Lack of energy

When to Call a Doctor About Your Child's Diarrhea

Diarrhea usually goes away in a few days, but it can lead to complications. If your child has any of these symptoms, don't wait, get help.

Call 911 if your child:

  • Is too weak to stand up
  • Is confused or dizzy

Call your doctor right away if your child:

  • Seems very sick
  • Has had diarrhea more than three days
  • Is younger than 6 months old
  • Is vomiting bloody green or yellow fluid
  • Can't hold down fluids or has vomited more than two times
  • Has a fever over 105° F or is under age 6 months with a fever over 100.4° F (determined by a rectal thermometer)
  • Seems dehydrated
  • Has bloody stool
  • Is less than a month old with three or more episodes of diarrhea
  • Passes more than four diarrhea stools in eight hours and isn't drinking enough
  • Has a weak immune system
  • Has a rash
  • Has stomach pain for more than two hours
  • Has not urinated in 6 hours if a baby or 12 hours if a child

NOTE: If your infant has a fever of over 100.4 F, do not give him fever medicine.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on March 25, 2014
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