Family Health Guide

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Diarrhea: Treatment

Talk to your doctor about administering a commercial oral rehydration solution (ORS), which restores fluids and essential electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, in approximately the same proportion that they are lost in diarrhea. Oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte or Rehydralyte are easily absorbed and a good option for all ages. If your child doesn’t like the taste, clear fluids such as watered-down juices or broth are fine alternatives. If those are also a turn-off, you can also try a fruit juice popscicle. Breastfed infants can continue to nurse as often as desired, in addition to consuming ORS. Formula-fed infants should begin regularly prepared formula as soon as possible after the ORS is administered.

Try to avoid giving large servings of soft drinks, undiluted juice, or sweet sports drinks since too much sugar, even natural sugar, can make diarrhea worse. Until the diarrhea subsides, have your child avoid large portions of greasy foods and sweets. These foods can potentially aggravate diarrhea.

As long as there's no vomiting, continue with breast milk or formula for babies. When appetite returns, offer start offering normal foods. Children recover faster and lose less weight when they’re fed a normal diet. What's more, the beneficial bacteria in yogurt and the fat in cheese speed intestinal healing. Some moms find it helpful to start kids off with starchy foods like white rice, crackers, toast, and cereal as they ease kids back into their usual diet.