When diarrhea hits: Stop it or let it run?

(Please consult with your physician if your child has diarrhea. It can be very dangerous if they get dehydrated. This is just a general discussion. Do not treat your child based on this discussion.)

I have had a very sick child in my house for the last 24 hours with a fever and very upset stomach so I have diarrhea and how to treat it on the brain. (We had to cancel our swimming lessons for the week. No showing up at the pool with diarrhea!)

Over the course of three children the recommendations of how to treat diarrhea have changed. It used to be that it was deemed OK to give the kids some children’s Imodium or Kaopectate to help bind up their stomachs when they had a stomach virus.

However, somewhere around my second child, the nurses on the hotline for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta started advising to absolutely NOT give any type of medication to stop diarrhea in children.

Now I understand and agree that if it is food poisoning that you have to get that stuff out of your system or you’re not going to feel better.

But it just doesn’t make sense to me that letting poop run out of you for days is going to help your body fight the virus faster. They usually tell you your body’s immune system has to create and send out anti-viral material to fight off a cold virus so why would a stomach virus be different?  So until that happens how is pooping all day going to fight the virus? (Any doctors want to explain this to us?)

My first pediatrician was solidly in the house of stop the diarrhea and don’t make the child suffer needlessly. My new pediatrician is the let it run house.

Now the phone nurse at her office did give me slightly different info today. She asked if the child had already had 10 poops (my word, not hers) and I said yes. And she said because of that and because of the child’s age they were OK for me to give 1 and only 1 Imodium, which I quickly did. The nurse said not to repeat it because then the child would get constipated. (At this point the poor child would love that!)

So that was slightly different info than what I had been told before.

So what do you usually follow when your child has diarrhea? Which theory do you think when it comes to stomach viruses? Any doctors out there that want to explain it to us?

40 comments Add your comment

JJ

June 9th, 2011
12:23 pm

Julia

June 9th, 2011
12:32 pm

can I have your job?

theresa

June 9th, 2011
12:34 pm

Yes seriously. I’ve been taking care of a sick kid for two day now. This I what I’m thinking on. I’m sure the instructions were diferent when your daughter was small. What did they advise then??

sj

June 9th, 2011
12:47 pm

Please follow your disclaimer: (Please consult with your physician if your child a diarrhea. It can be very dangerous if they get dehydrated. This is just a general discussion. Do not treat your child based on this discussion.)

Rocco

June 9th, 2011
12:53 pm

Wha…. you earn a living off this?

Geez...

June 9th, 2011
1:18 pm

uh people, she runs a MOMMY blog…isn’t this a mommy topic?

JJ

June 9th, 2011
1:19 pm

TWG – We never encountered that problem…..when my daughter was young, she rarely ever got sick.

Jeff

June 9th, 2011
1:20 pm

BAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Sorry, I know a sick kid is no fun. But I’m laughing my a** off right now.

Here’s an idea topic: are the recent pictures if Leann Rhymes evidence that she’s too thin?

karma

June 9th, 2011
1:31 pm

jeesh, you dont have a single intuitive parenting bone in your body. You rely on articles, facebook and the www for the simplest things. poor kids, poor readers.

charlene

June 9th, 2011
1:33 pm

You have my sympathy, TWG, for dealing with a sick kid with the runs. Stomach bugs are the worst. You not only have to care for a sick child, but then have much more laundry to do, not to mention carpet to clean if they don’t make it to the bathroom in time. Once when my 3rd child was just under a year, she & my older 2 decided to have diarrhea all on the same night. Thankfully, they went in turns and it was only one night.

My general rule of thumb is to let their bodies try to heal themselves. If they can’t get better on their own after a few days, I call the doctor’s office & see what the next step is.

Sylvania

June 9th, 2011
1:35 pm

Medication to manage diarrhea usually isn’t necessary, but if it continues more than 24 hours you may need to see a pediatrician to treat infection. Your main goal is to prevent dehydration. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. Avoid very sweet drinks as they can make the diarrhea worse, and avoid caffeinated drinks (tea, cola) as much as possible.

Don’t use Imodium to stop stools in children under 12 years of age. With certain kinds of diarrhea, Imodium can cause dangerous side effects, though these are rare (read: it can happen). Never give Pepto Bismol to children. It contains salicylates (similar to aspirin). Like other aspirin-containing products, it should not be used in children unless directed by a doctor.

JJ

June 9th, 2011
1:35 pm

I have been EXTREMELY lucky in the medical area, with a child who very rarely got sick. She’s never had a cavity, no broken bones, no stitches, zip, nada, nil……..

My health insurance company should be sending ME money!!!!

shaggy

June 9th, 2011
1:38 pm

karma,

OK Mr. “intuitive parenting bone”. Your kid is blowing bubbles with his butt, 24/7. You have seen this before, with a previous child. Your job, besides being a mother to 3 children, is writing a freakin mom blog, so you write a “what do you do” article, just for some reader opinions. Now, some idiot, going by the handle of “karma” “educates” you on parenting, with their smartest word being “jeesh”.
Drum roll please….what the(insert profane word here) would you, karma, do? My money is that you would whine about it.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 9th, 2011
1:43 pm

Hey Guys — I am always happy to take topic ideas — this is what I am dealing with right now so please, please feel free to email me ideas — put in the headline reader idea — you can email me at ajcmomania@gmail.com

iRun

June 9th, 2011
1:43 pm

I’ve never called a doctor about this. For general diarrhea I let it run it’s course. However, if it’s so bad I can see my son is dumping out more water then they’re taking in AND/OR he has a sore bum…well then I give him something.

This is how I treat it for myself, as well.

And if it continues for more than a couple of days it’s time to go to the doc.

Not complicated.

djm_NC

June 9th, 2011
1:47 pm

it seems that no matter what theresa posts someone is gonna blast her for it. this topic is probably one of the ‘mommiest’ ones and still she gets blasted.

she is questioning because there are so many different solutions to be heard. give them something-dont give them something. i know how she feels. i usually just let it run its course until i think it has gone on too long-then make sure there is no dehydration. some people dont know how to tell if someone is dehydrated…if you arent sure-go to a doctor as it can be very dangerous.

djm_NC

June 9th, 2011
1:50 pm

theresa the germs have probably already been passed between the kids- i wouldnt worry so much about trying to keep them separated-my mom always did that to no avail-if one got it everyone got it. i hope kids all get it and get over it before you get it! nothing worse than having to take care of sick kids when you are sick….at least your oldest should be some help to you if that happens :)…hope you alll get well soon!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 9th, 2011
1:51 pm

I feel awful my sick kid but I feel bad for the other two also — we can’t go anywhere!! they are bored, bored. Keep trying to keep the little one away form the sick big one. the big one understands but the little one doesn’t. the big one took the little one’s cup that she has set out but hadn’t used and the little one freaked out. And I’m like don’t touch it because the sick one had already drank from it. And I went to scrub her down trying to explain you do not want to catch this!!!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 9th, 2011
1:52 pm

And I do think it’s interesting that the theory of treatment has changed — stomach viruses haven’t changed in the last 10 years but the doctor’s recommendations have. why did they change?? more research on the meds??

JOD

June 9th, 2011
1:53 pm

@TWG – I feel for you…it’s no fun.

I just dealt with this a few weeks ago. You can buy Children’s Pepto that can be given to kids over 2. It does help, especially with kids who aren’t nighttime potty-trained (a blowout at 3 a.m. isn’t fun for anyone).

Our new pediatrician said that diarrhea in toddlers and little kids can continue for weeks – it takes them that long to rebuild the good bacteria in the intestinal tract. Typically by the time you take them to the doctor for having it so long they are already on the mend (his words).

I used probiotics daily (empty the capsules into watered-down juice) and Pedialyte popsicles after weaning DD off the Pepto.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 9th, 2011
1:54 pm

Hey Guys — a reporter needs help from parents dealing with teen curfew ordinances — see link if you want to help her.

http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2011/06/09/reporter-needs-your-help-are-the-teen-curfews-working/

djm_NC

June 9th, 2011
1:58 pm

theresa-the advice and rules for everything changes all the time. you just have to go with your instincts sometimes…trying to keep up with all the new rules is hard sometimes.

Dreamer

June 9th, 2011
2:10 pm

Blog Idea: Activities for kids when someone in the house is sick.

TWG–It appears a few folks count on your blog for interesting discussions. (since they complain if they don’t ‘like’ the topic. perhaps they are addicted to your blog) Take that as a compliment.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 9th, 2011
2:16 pm

Dreamer – I need those activities now — we had swim lessons planned for this week and playdates but we’re having to move everything — I am watching and waiting for other two to come down wtih it. big bummer for summer.

Dreamer

June 9th, 2011
2:25 pm

Activities: arts, crafts, puzzles, reading, letting them take pictures of things in the house/yard, movies, dress-up. For girls, I would polish nails and other girly stuff.
Ask them what they want to do in the house or yard.

If someone in our household gets sick, it’s usually just that person b/c I wash, wash, wash. (hands, counters, clothes, bedsheets, etc) I spray Lysol in the bathrooms, on door knobs etc.

Sometimes it’s good to be a clean freak, LOL. Hope they feel better soon.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 9th, 2011
2:43 pm

I am lysoling everything and keep scrubbing down the preschooler — who is not understanding stop touching things sick kid has touched —

we need to do the nail polish that would amek girls happy — right now two wells ones are playing bakugan — whatever is fine – as long as they are happy.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 9th, 2011
3:00 pm

just noticed this —
win tickets from ajc – to see new kids on the block and backstreet boys in concert in atl on june 22

http://projects.accessatlanta.com/contests/new-kids-backstreet/login/?next=%2Fcontests%2Fnew-kids-backstreet%2F

Becky

June 9th, 2011
3:49 pm

I give them a piece of cheese or feed them rice..

@Jeff..Yeah, she is way to thin..That might just be my opinion..Do men really fine a woman that thin sexy?

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 9th, 2011
4:05 pm

I have to agree with djm_NC….TWG is in a no win situation with topics…someone is going to blast her for any topic she puts up.

@TWG….I’m sure you have thick skin by now, but ignore those who bash on your topic choice.

If you don’t like the topic don’t respond! That’s what I think most rational people do. Now that’s not to say if you think TWG is completely out of touch with reality on her topic you shouldn’t blast her (or anyone else for that matter), but really, it’s not like this is the only blog in the world with interesting, or lack thereof, topics.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 9th, 2011
4:19 pm

“that’s not to say if you think TWG is completely out of touch with reality on her topic you shouldn’t blast her”…

I give you an example ;-)

“And I do think it’s interesting that the theory of treatment has changed — stomach viruses haven’t changed in the last 10 years but the doctor’s recommendations have. why did they change?? ”

Seriously? You’re confused as to why medical treatments change? Because sometimes treatments are wrong and/or they evolve. Throat infections haven’t changed much either, but we don’t implement bloodletting anymore (i.e. that’s pretty much what killed George Washington, not the sore throat) because it was proven to have zero efficacy. I for one am kind of glad…I’d hate to go into my doctors office for high blood pressure only to have a bunch of leeches attached to me.

kaab

June 9th, 2011
4:34 pm

Go old school. About 2 oz of water or juice with about a tablespoon of flour.

Ann

June 9th, 2011
4:41 pm

@karma – Why, then are you reading the Mom blog, if you think what is said on the web is worthless for parenting tips?

I agree with Charlene – ;let the body try to heal itself. If you’re too quick to give kids medications, there are known and unknown side effects to that, especially considering all the kids medications banned the last 2 years. Many of these medications have “never” been studied on children, only on adults, then the portion/amount reduced for kids. They have rarely been actually researched/studied on children. They are out there on the shelves, then years later we learn they are harmful after many reports. If it’s not absolutely needed, I’d skip it.

Just make sure the child is properly hydrated with water or Pedialyte. My son has only had one stomach virus, and we used the unsweetened Pedialyte, making sure he drank a few sips every half hour or so while awake. I would avoid any sugary beverages or things like Gatorade, with lots of junk in it. I’m a big advocate of probiotics, too, There are powdered kids forms you can buy that you can mix with water.

Julia

June 9th, 2011
7:35 pm

are you giving them the brat diet? no Im not calling your kids names :)

motherjanegoose

June 9th, 2011
10:25 pm

@Julia…I remembered the brat diet too. Do they still advise it? What is up with the flour?
I never heard that as an option.

FYI…once I got sick ON THE PLANE from Phoenix to ATL. It was awful. I think it was food poisoning. My family was with me and I was afraid I would pass out in the lav. NO fun!

TWG…sorry your summer is starting off so poorly. I agree that no matter what you write about, someone will be testy. Seems silly, to me. It’s your blog, so write what you want to write about.
If I am not interested, I skip.
I was driving most of this afternoon and am on a business trip now.I am just checking back in.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

June 10th, 2011
9:08 am

kaab

June 10th, 2011
4:36 pm

The flour makes a “paste” in the intestine; like making glue for paper mache. It really works.

Here are the inactive ingredients in Imodium
Lactose, cornstarch, talc, and magnesium stearate. IMODIUM® (loperamide hcl) capsules contain FD&C Yellow No. 6.

Just replace cornstarch w/flour and don’t add the other stuff and you have imodium.

Joseph Simon, MD; Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

June 10th, 2011
4:37 pm

Each cubic centimeter of stool contains billions of bacteria, some of which can cause serious illness if they manage to enter our child’s blood stream. With diarrhea, the bowel wall is irritated and may not be quite as effective as normal bowel as a barrier between bacteria in the bowel and the blood stream on the other side. So, with an irritated bowel wall do you really want billions of bacteria stuck inside the bowel? This is not just a theoretical concern. For selected bacterial diarrheas constipating agents have been shown to increase the risk of sepsis – a very serious and, at times, a life-threatening blood infection. Better that the bacteria leave your child’s body then increase the risk of sepsis.

Karia

June 10th, 2011
7:24 pm

Dr. Simon, thank you for that interesting bit of info. I had no idea! That makes perfect sense.

I have another stomach virus question for you. The CDC’s website, and this website I found written by someone in the medical field (www.stopthestomachflu.com) both state that unlike colds, stomach viruses are contagious from the moment you feel sick until several days–sometimes up to two weeks–AFTER symptoms go away. If this is true, why don’t our doctors and pediatric specialists share this gem of information so we can help control disease transmission? Because you know what happens–someone has the stomach bug, they get better within 24 hours, and the next day they’re back at work or school, spreading their viruses without even realizing it.

I also read that it only takes the ingestion of 10 virus particles to catch some of the more contagious stomach bugs. That’s just crazy!

Anyway…I’ve known far too many little kids who end up needing IV fluids after bad viruses. If more people knew they were contagious, and stayed home a few extra days, maybe they wouldn’t spread so rampantly.

kaab

June 10th, 2011
8:06 pm

Dr. Simon. Thank you for the information. I only used flour and water for loose stool. Maybe that is why my children never had diarrhea. I will not give them it anymore. :)

OTOH

June 11th, 2011
11:28 pm

Water, water, water. Nothing else the first 24 hours. Other things may feed the bacteria, especially dairy and sugar.

Main thing to worry about is hydration, not poop.