Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Bleeding Gastrointestinal Diarrhea in Children

Home treatment for diarrhea in children with gastrointestinal bleeding is based on general measures and dietary therapy. Medications are rarely needed. When possible, treating the underlying cause is important.

General Measures
Simple methods can restore lost body fluids and prevent the spread of infection.

Children who are taking fluids by mouth can usually restore lost fluids and body salts with oral rehydration therapy (ORT). Simply drinking enough fluid can treat most children with diarrhea and dehydration.

ORT fluids include:

  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte
  • ReVital
  • Generic drugstore brands

Older children may also use the following fluids:
  • Non-caffeinated soft drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Tea
  • Water (not exclusively)

General Measures in Infants Under 6 Months
General measures for breast-fed infants under 6 months include:
  • Continue breast feeding as much as your baby desires.
  • Give extra feedings with an oral rehydration therapy (ORT) fluid to supplement breast milk.
  • If vomiting occurs, feed very small amounts every 30-60 minutes.
  • Prevent diaper rash by using super-absorbent diapers changed frequently and apply Vaseline or other protective ointments to the buttocks.
  • Watch for symptoms of dehydration.

General measures for bottle-fed infants under 6 months:
  • Give as much ORT fluids as often as desired.
  • Give your child as much formula as he or she will normally drink.
  • If bloating, gas or vomiting occurs, try a lactose-free formula. Formula can also be diluted in half with ORT for 1-2 days.
  • Prevent diaper rash by using super-absorbent diapers changed frequently. Apply Vaseline or other protective ointments to the buttocks.
  • Watch for symptoms of dehydration

General Measures in Children Over 6 Months
General measures for children over 6 months:

Dietary Therapy
It is not necessary to highly restrict the diet to treat diarrhea. Most children can eat a regular, balanced diet with mild or moderate diarrhea. Small, frequent meals may improve symptoms. Certain foods may help or worsen diarrhea, depending on the person.

Foods that may help diarrhea:
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers (saltines and pretzels contain needed salt)
  • Lean meats
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Noodles
  • Oatmeal
  • Oral rehydration therapy liquids
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Strained carrots
  • Wheat
  • Yogurt with live cultures

Items that may worsen diarrhea include:
  • Caffeine
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • High-sugar foods (junk food)
  • Cow's milk
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugar substitutes

Continue to Bleeding Gastrointestinal Taking Control

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Bleeding Gastrointestinal References
  1. Farrell JJ, Friedman LS. Review article: the management of lower gastrointestinal bleeding. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Jun 1;21(11):1281-98. [15932359]
  2. Hernandez-Diaz S, Rodriguez LA. Incidence of serious upper gastrointestinal bleeding/perforation in the general population: review of epidemiologic studies. J Clin Epidemiol. 2002 Feb;55(2):157-63. [11809354]
  3. Khuroo MS, Khuroo MS, Farahat KL, Kagevi IE. Treatment with proton pump inhibitors in acute non-variceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding: a meta-analysis. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Jan;20(1):11-25. [15610441]
  4. Lewis B, Goldfarb N. Review article: The advent of capsule endoscopy--a not-so-futuristic approach to obscure gastrointestinal bleeding. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 May 1;17(9):1085-96. [12752345]
  5. Olds GD, Cooper GS, Chak A, Sivak MV Jr, Chitale AA, Wong RC. The yield of bleeding scans in acute lower gastrointestinal hemorrhage. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2005 Apr;39(4):273-7. [15758618]
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