Diarrhoea is often defined as the passage of loose or watery stools more than 3 times in a day. Since children, newborns in particular, do not pass stools with the same consistency as that of older children/adults, “childhood diarrhoea” is defined as frequent loose or watery bowel movements that deviate from a child’s normal pattern.
Diarrhoea may be acute (lasting less than 14 days) or chronic (lasting more than 14 days). Acute diarrhoea is usually due to infectious causes (most often viral) and is more common in developing nations, while chronic diarrhoea (commoner in developed nations) is usually due to non-infectious causes like malabsorption, lactose intolerance, pancreatic or liver disease, and endocrine dysfunction.
Diarrhoea is a leading cause of malnutrition and death among children under the age of 5, especially in developing nations. Acute diarrhoea is usually self-limiting but it may be complicated, usually by dehydration. Infants under 6 months of age are at the greatest risk of dehydration. If not carefully managed, dehydration may be lethal to the child, hence, in the treatment of diarrhoea, the most important factor is re-hydration.
By: Dr. Pius Ojemolon