How to Treat Diarrhea in a Four Year Old

Children with diarrhea may be at risk for dehydration, a dangerous condition resulting from fluid loss. Diarrhea can be caused by bacterial infections, parasites and other conditions, but it is most commonly caused by viral infections. In mild diarrhea, appropriately treating fluid loss helps reduce dehydration in children. Acute diarrhea is defined as the presence of 3 or more loose, watery stools within 24 hours. Diarrhea may be accompanied by cramping, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and loss of bowel control.

Mother comforting child Credit: Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

How to Treat

Boy drinking electrolyte solution Credit: mikanaka/iStock/Getty Images

Mild diarrhea is treatable at home using oral rehydration solutions (Pedialyte or Gastrolyte or similar non-brand name products). Give the child frequent amounts of oral electrolyte solutions to help maintain hydration. Children can continue to eat a healthy diet but should avoid caffeine, high fiber foods, sugary foods and dairy products, as these may aggravate diarrhea. Medications used to stop diarrhea in adults may be dangerous for children and should not be used without a doctor's recommendation.


Child with thermometer Credit: Oleg Kozlov/iStock/Getty Images

Severe diarrhea is indicated in children with fever higher than 102.2° Fahrenheit, persistent vomiting and change in mental status, such as irritability or lethargy. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, decreased tears, dry mucous membranes and decreased urination; these signs indicate a need for medical attention. Seek treatment for blood or pus in the stool or black, tarry stools. Dehydration can be deadly for a young child, so although mild cases of diarrhea can be treated at home, do consult a physician.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
references & resources
Load Comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.