Toddlers With Foul Gas & Diarrhea

Toddler playing with blocks at daycare
Keep toddlers with diarrhea home from daycare. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Foul gas and diarrhea are two symptoms that go hand-in-hand for toddlers and people of all ages. The occurrence of diarrhea can be alarming for parents, regardless of if the infection is from a virus, bacteria or dairy intolerance. Diarrhea is usually harmless and can usually be treated at home, but more severe cases require hospitalization to prevent dehydration.

Identification

Rotavirus causes greenish brown colored diarrhea that smells terrible and sometimes lasts up to eight days. Rotavirus initially begins with a fever and vomiting. Other symptoms include stomach ache and decreased appetite. If your child’s diarrhea is from a bacterial infection, blood is often present in the stools. Diarrhea from your toddler being lactose intolerance produces an awful smelling gas. Your child may also have gas pains and nausea if he is lactose intolerant. Signs and symptoms of being lactose intolerant for a child that was born full term usually present themselves when your toddler is about 3 years old.

Cause

Rotavirus is a virus spread by fecal to oral route, so its most common among young children and in daycare facilities. An infected person’s stools can contaminate hands, objects, food and water. If an infected toddler does not wash her hands after passing stools and then goes to play with toys -- each child that touches a contaminated toy is at risk of rotavirus if the child places her hands or the toy in his mouth. If daycare workers do not wash their hands after changing an infected child’s diaper, the worker can pass the infected stools to other children and workers. Bacteria, such as E.coli or salmonella, can be spread from contaminated surfaces and from eating undercooked meats, contaminated foods or spoiled foods. Lactose intolerance is caused by the small intestines not producing enough of the enzyme lactase to break down lactose in milk products.

Treatment

Antiviral drugs and antibiotics are ineffective against rotavirus, so the infection needs to run its course. Since diarrhea and vomiting increases your toddler’s risk of dehydration, give plenty of oral rehydration fluids, such as Pedialyte. You can freeze oral rehydration fluids into popsicles if your toddler prefers this method. Also, give your toddler small sips of water frequently and soup broth. Some bacterial infections leave the system without treatment, but doctor’s can treat these infection with antibiotics. Discuss adding lactase enzymes to your toddler’s milk products to ensure he is getting enough calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin and protein in his diet.

Prevention

Ensure your toddler is frequently and thoroughly washing her hands after bowel movements, before eating and after playing. Encourage your toddler not to place objects or her hands in her mouth, but this is easier said than done, especially if your toddler is teething. Thoroughly cook all meats and refrigerate left overs as soon as possible to prevent bacterial growth. Do not allow raw meats to touch other foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before serving them to your toddler. Disinfect cooking surfaces with diluted bleach. If your toddler is lactose intolerant, avoid or restrict milk products. If your toddler has low lactase levels, she can usually drink 2 to 4 ounces of milk without smelly gas and diarrhea.

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