Diarrhea in children – When to Take a Toddler to the Doctor for Diarrhea


Diarrhea is caused by many different things and comes with many different symptoms. The main symptom is to have runny, liquified bowel movements that usually only stays with the individual for a couple of days without needing any specialist treatment. However, there is a type of diarrhea that although not necessarily constant will continue for up to a month and this is termed chronic diarrhea. As a result of chronic diarrhea, dehydration can develop, especially in babies and tender age children. The dehydration will affect the number of electrolytes and essential fluids in their bodies and can cause the child all sorts of problems.

Another problem caused by chronic loose stools is malnourishment especially in those children aged five and under. This is however more prevalent in developing countries through polluted food and water sources. This can therefore stunt growth and allow the cycle to continue, meaning the child is always ill. Globally diarrhea and its effects is one of the most prevalent causes of morbidity in children aged 5 and under and it is estimated that over 750.000 infants die annually from the condition.

Now question arises when to take you toddler to the doctor for diarrhea? For this, here are the things you should know before.

What can bring on loose stools

The exact cause of this condition is not always determined, although there are some usual suspects such as

  • Any changes in diet
  • If the child is on medication such as but not limited to antibiotic treatment
  • Allergies
  • Being sensitive to some food stuff
  • Consuming a lot of fruit or fruit-based products

Excessive diarrhea can be brought on by

  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Infections
  • Parasites or other bugs
  • Being malnourished
  • Not preparing food properly
  • Conditions such as inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • Foreign travel

What are the symptoms to look out for

Runny bowel movements on their own should not be a great worry as babies and tender age children often have loose movements. Although if there are a number of them and they are accompanied by symptoms such a high temperature then this may be a case of chronic diaarhea. Other symptoms to look out for are:

  • High temperature and/or the shivers/chills
  • Feeling sick
  • Stomach ache or cramps
  • Strong desire to use the toilet or failing to get to the toilet on time
  • Being dehydrated

How do I know if my child is dehydrated?

An individual will become dehydrated when there is a reduced amount of fluid in the body so it can no longer carry out normal function. This can advance incredibly quickly especially in the case of babies and tender age children, thus leading to significant difficulties if untreated. The serious difficulties that this can cause include damage to organs, organ failure, shock and cause the child to end up in a comatose state. The symptoms of dehydration that you should observe for are

  • Excessive tiredness
  • Dry/itchy skin
  • Crying without tears and dry eyes
  • Eyes and cheeks that are sunken into the child’s face
  • Mouth that is dry not matter how much they drink
  • Over irritable

If suffering from severe dehydration your child may experience the following

  • The fontanelle on the top of their skull in sunken in
  • Raised temperature
  • Not passed urine for seven hours or more
  • Child may appear excessively lethargic and limp
  • Their skin has lost elasticity and doesn’t bounce back when pinched gently
  • You child may become unconscious

When to take you toddler to the doctor for diarrhea

When to take you toddler to the doctor for diarrhea? It’s a question which arises in every parent’s mind. You should call your general practitioner or physician as soon as your young child has had diarrhea that has continued for longer than a twenty-four-hour period, particularly if this is accompanied by a high temperature. If at any time you have noticed any of the symptoms of dehydration it is essential you contact the doctor or access an emergency facility immediately.

It is also imperative to contact a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms within your young child.

  • Stools that have blood in them
  • More than 8 loose bowel movements within an eight-hour period.
  • Stomach ache and/or cramps
  • Loose bowel motions that keep coming back
  • High temperature
  • Loose bowel movements that are happening with vomiting

The most important thing is that loose stool movements within babies and tender age children can cause dehydration which can quickly lead to a very serious health condition, so please don’t delay in getting medical advice or attention. It is definitely better to be safe than sorry.


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