This week one of my kiddos had viral gastroenteritis, aka “the vomiting and diarrhea flu”. I thought it would be good to review the topic of acute, or short-term, diarrhea.
Medical Intervention Indicated for Acute Diarrhea
- Diarrhea in infants.
- Moderate or severe diarrhea in young children.
- Acute diarrhea for more than 72 hours.
- Diarrhea associated with blood.
- Diarrhea that continues for more than two weeks.
- Diarrhea that is associated with more general illness such as non-cramping abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, etc.
- Diarrhea in travelers(more likely to have exotic infections such as parasites).
- Diarrhea in food handlers (potential to infect others).
- Diarrhea in institutions (hospitals, child care, mental health institutes, geriatric and convalescent homes).
If acute diarrhea persists, it can lead to severe dehydration. Those with any of the following symptoms should seek medical attention immediately:
- Very dry skin— when pinched, stays in a “tented” position and does not snap back to normal
- Extreme thirst
- Confusion or delirium
- Very dry mouth
- Sunken eyes
- Lack of tears
- Lack of sweating
- Rapid breathing and heart rate
- Little or no urine output
Remember– those who suffer from chronic diarrhea can become severely dehydrated more quickly! Mild-to-moderate dehydration is treated by drinking oral rehydration solutions (ORS) to replace what was lost through diarrhea or vomiting. You can find a recipe for ORS here. Begin with small sips of ORS, such as one to two ounces (30-60ml) every fifteen minutes, and increase the volume slowly as tolerated. If your symptoms do not improve or worsen, please consult a physician.