Symptom Guide: Diarrhoea
Decipher the possible causes of your baby’s diarrhoea and know what to do
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Symptom

Diarrhoea, blood in stool if infection is bacterial, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and chills.

What it could be

Gastroenteritis (stomach flu) is the inflamed lining of the digestive tract. It can be mild to severe depending on the type of bacterial or viral infection. Greasy stools, gas and bloating could also hint at parasitic infection.

What to do

See a doctor urgently for a diagnosis. Antibiotics will be prescribed for bacterial infections. A viral infection will be left to run its course. Seek your doctor’s advice on keeping your baby hydrated and comfortable.

Symptom

Diarrhoea from drinking incorrectly mixed formula or a lot of juice.

What it could be

It could be your baby’s sensitive to cow’s milk protein found in most formulas. Or juice: processed juices have less fibre content and more sugar. Such sugars tend to allow food to be passed through the digestive system faster than it should be.

What to do

Consult your doctor or a lactation specialist on switching formula. Ensure you follow the proper formula-to-water ratio to meet your baby’s nutrient requirements. It's not recommended to give juice to babies under 6 months. 

Symptom

Diarrhoea, as well as a runny nose, dry cough, vomiting, high fever and lack of appetite.

What it could be

The influenza virus is the cause of flu. Flu is dangerous to young babies. Flu is often signalled by a sudden onset of fever followed by coughing and congestion.

What to do

See a doctor to diagnose symptoms. Flu is contagious and doesn’t respond to antibiotic treatment being a virus. Your baby must get rest and plenty of liquids.

Symptom

Diarrhoea after taking medication.

What it could be

This could be a side-effect of a medication.

What to do

Be wary when giving medicines to your baby. Always ask your doctor about the side-affects of prescribed medications.

Symptom

Diarrhoea with vomiting, excessive perspiration, fatigue, convulsions and unconsciousness.

What it could be

The majority of poisonings affect children under 6 years and usually occur at home.

What to do

Call for an ambulance urgently if there are breathing difficulties or unconsciousness. Administer CPR if necessary. Be able to identify the poison ingested by your child to the paramedics.

Symptom

Diarrhoea, gas, bloating, fussy after feeds.

What it could be

Lactase is an enzyme in the digestive tract necessary to digest lactose, a sugar found in cow’s milk, other dairy and even breastmilk. A lack of lactase is a digestive condition called lactose intolerance.

What to do

See your doctor if symptoms persist. Lactose intolerance in babies is rare and usually manifests later on in life. In this instance your baby will have to have a lactose-free milk formula.

Symptom

Diarrhoea, vomiting, respiratory trouble, wheezing, hives, rash, gas, swelling.

What it could be

Could be a food allergy. Bloody stools, poor appetite, bloating, colic and eczema – scaly, itchy red patches of skin – could hint at milk protein intolerance.

What to do

Call an ambulance urgently if there are respiratory problems or swelling of the face and lips. Usually by 1 or 2 years children outgrow milk protein intolerance.

Symptom

Diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, fussiness and tugging at ears.

What it could be

Fluid collecting in the Eustachian tube can result in an infection of the ear. This tube usually drains the fluid out but if blocked because of a cold the fluid just collects.

What to do

Bacteria or viruses cause ear infections. See your doctor for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
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