Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Viral Infection of the Intestine Diarrhea in Children

Home treatment of diarrhea in children with viral gastroenteritis includes hydration and dietary therapy.

Hydration
Those who are able to drink liquids can restore lost water and salt with oral rehydration therapy (ORT).

ORT fluids used in children include:

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

Additional ORT fluids for older children include:
  • Soft drinks without caffeine
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • Tea
  • Water

Strategies for breast-fed infants under 6 months include:
  • Continue breast feeding as much as your baby desires.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement breast milk.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids every 30-60 minutes.
  • Prevent diaper rash by changing diapers frequently and apply Vaseline to the skin.
  • Watch for symptoms of dehydration.

Strategies for bottle-fed infants under 6 months:
  • Give your child normal amounts of formula.
  • Provide as much ORT fluids as your baby desires.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids every 30-60 minutes.
  • If vomiting occurs, try a lactose-free formula.
  • Prevent diaper rash by changing diapers frequently and apply Vaseline to the skin.
  • Watch for symptoms of dehydration.

Strategies for children over 6 months:

Dietary Therapy
ORT is most important if you have vomiting with the diarrhea. Once vomiting and nausea resolves, provide bland foods first. If bland foods are tolerated, then you resume a normal diet.

Foods that may help diarrhea:
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Noodles
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Strained carrots
  • Wheat
  • Yogurt

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

Continue to Viral Infection of the Intestine Fever in Adults

Last Updated: Nov 5, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Viral Infection of the Intestine References
  1. Beller M, Ellis A, Lee SH, Drebot MA, Jenkerson SA, Funk E, Sobsey MD, Simmons OD 3rd, Monroe SS, Ando T, Noel J, Petric M, Middaugh JP, Spika JS. Outbreak of viral gastroenteritis due to a contaminated well. International consequences. JAMA. 1997 Aug 20;278(7):563-8. [9268277]
  2. Clark B, McKendrick M. A review of viral gastroenteritis. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2004 Oct;17(5):461-9. [15353966]
  3. Koopmans M. Outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis: what's new in 2004? Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2005 Aug;18(4):295-9. [15985824]
  4. Lopman BA, Reacher MH, Van Duijnhoven Y, Hanon FX, Brown D, Koopmans M. Viral gastroenteritis outbreaks in Europe, 1995-2000. Emerg Infect Dis. 2003 Jan;9(1):90-6. [12533287]
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