In essence, diarrhoea is not a disease. It is a symptom of an infection or illness. Infant diarrhoea is usually caused by infectious agents such as bacteria (shigella or Escherichia coli), viruses (rotavirus), and parasites. If these organisms enter your baby's body, his normal bodily functions may be affected. Diarrhoea is a reaction to these infections. It is usually acute, lasting not more than two days.
Is Your Baby Having Diarrhoea?
Your baby is having diarrhoea when there is a significant increase in the fluidity, frequency, and volume of his bowel movements compared to his usual bowel pattern.
Keep in mind that the frequency of your baby's bowel movement may be affected by his diet, and may not be an indication of diarrhoea, especially if you have changed his diet recently.
Breastfed babies usually have more frequent bowel movements than formula-fed babies. However, please be aware if your baby's stools appear very loose and watery as they are an indication that your baby may be having diarrhoea. In any case, consult your doctor immediately for clarification.
What Are The Dangers of Infant Diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea can sometimes be accompanied by vomiting, fever, loss of appetite, stomach pain/cramp, or a bloated stomach. If vomiting accompanies diarrhoea, your baby may experience rapid fluid loss.
This can lead to dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the body loses water faster than it can replace. It is accompanied by mineral loss and electrolyte imbalance.
Dehydration in infants is very dangerous and may be life-threatening if it is not countered quickly. Severe health problems may arise if your child is dehydrated.
Signs to Watch Out For
* Dry mouth
* Extreme thirst
* Sunken soft spot on top of baby's head
* Dry, cool skin
* Sunken eyes
* Absence of tears when crying.
Consult your doctor if diarrhoea in your baby persists for more than 48 hours or if you notice any of the above symptoms.
Do not give medication to stop diarrhoea in your baby unless it is prescribed by the doctor. If your baby is experiencing mild to moderate dehydration, you can give him oral rehydration solutions (ORS) in small and frequent amounts to replace loss of fluids and minerals.
Zinc supplements may also be given by the doctor. Please ask your doctor for more information.
Know More About Rotavirus
In Malaysia, a study carried out in Hospital Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak General Hospital found that rotavirus was the infective agent in 49% of the total number of children hospitalised for diarrhoea.
Rotavirus is a wheel-like virus and is one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis. Rotavirus gastroenteritis is the most common cause of diarrhoea among children under the age of five years.
If your baby is infected, he may also experience abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills.
The rotavirus enters the body through the mouth, usually after consumption of contaminated food or water. Rotavirus gastroenteritis results in inflammation of your baby's intestinal lining as the virus replicates there. The virus causes damage to the villus, where nutrient absorption occurs. It impairs your baby's body's ability to absorb sodium, glucose, and water.
The best way to protect your baby against rotavirus is by giving him a vaccine during early infancy. It is given orally and the goal of this vaccine is to stimulate immunity from an early age so that your child's first encounter with rotavirus will only cause a mild infection, or one without symptoms.
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