Chronic diarrhea in children: why it occurs and what diet to follow
It is common that children have diarrhea But what should we do if it lasts too long? First it is necessary to know when it is a question of prolonged diarrhea, since the time in an adult is not the same as in a nursing baby, for example. We answer several questions that may arise about it and we tell you what you should do.
As explained by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (Aeped), the number and consistency of the depositions of people varies throughout life: thus, it is normal for a baby who takes the mother's breast to perform eight or 10 semiliquid stools a day during the first days of life.
Instead, it is rare for children to poop more than three times a day after two years of age. At this point, they assure that most diarrheas resolve in a few days (they are called acute diarrhea), whereas when they last several weeks they are known as prologue or chronic diarrhea.
The reasons for diarrhea
These pediatricians explain that there are different reasons for children to develop diarrhea. Sometimes, it is given by "functional processes in which the intestinal transit is accelerated", they indicate, assuring that this usually occurs, as with constipation, due to bad eating habits, such as taking too many fruit juices.
Food intolerance, such as celiac disease or lactose intolerance, are other causes that lead to diarrhea. Also, diarrhea may be a symptom of a more rare disease, such as cystic fibrosis, but this occurs less frequently.
How prolonged diarrhea is diagnosed
To assess prolonged diarrhea, the pediatrician takes into account the child's nutrition and if he has had weight changes in recent days, as well as its development or if you have frequent respiratory infections. He also asks about the caquitas: if they have mucus or blood, if the child gets up at night to go to the bathroom, if there is any new food in the diet or you have gone abroad, et cetera.
As these pediatricians explain, in many occasions it is not necessary to make tests and it is enough to wait a while until the problem resolves on its own. "In other cases, different types of analysis or studies are required", they clarify.
The diet during diarrhea
Many times we think that the first thing to do when we see that our child has diarrhea is to vary the diet, but it is not advisable to do so until the pediatrician sees it. The reason is that the astringent diets that we use to treat acute diarrhea can be the cause of prolonged diarrhea if they last for a long time, and can also lead to a worsening of our child's nutritional status.
The pediatrician will be the one to determine which treatment has to be followed, This will depend on the cause of the diarrhea (maybe you are advised to reduce sugars, use special milks, stop taking certain foods, increase fiber intake, etc.). These dietary changes should be made with care and evaluating their effectiveness so that the diet only lasts the necessary time.
Angela R. Bonachera