- There are cases where parents have rushed to subject their children—as young as three years old—to antibiotics that could have been avoided altogether.
- From today on, make use of this advice, it will help you. Don’t give your child any antibiotics or antidiarrhoeal medicines unless prescribed by a trained health worker.
In Tanzania, cases of diarrhoea in children are common but the one thing parents may not have grasped is when to know if their child indeed has diarrhoea—or not, and what to do.
There are cases where parents have rushed to subject their children—as young as three years old—to antibiotics that could have been avoided altogether.
From today on, make use of this advice, it will help you. Don’t give your child any antibiotics or antidiarrhoeal medicines unless prescribed by a trained health worker.
But also, get to hear this. You will know the child has diarrhoea when he/she passes three or more loose or liquid stools in 24 hours.
That’s when we can say a child has had diarrhoea—generally defined as more frequent passage of stool than normal.
Having known the exact parameters of the disease, the next thing is: What do you do if the child has diarrhea?
There are immediate things—and probably the most important ones. Give the child a lot of fluids to drink. And give more often.
There is belief among people that drinking the liquids actually makes diarrhoea worse—that’s not true.
In fact, when a child drinks more fluids, this helps to replace the fluids lost due to diarrhoea.
Another home-based care is to give a child soups, rice water, coconut water as well as fruit juice.
In cases where a child vomits, there should be an interval of ten minutes between one incident of vomiting and when to give the drink to the child. But then, give slowly, in small sips at a time.
Then, feed the child with nutrient-rich and easily digestible foods, such as rice cereal, breads, cooked beans, mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, and bananas.
Avoid foods containing large amounts of sugar, fats or spices and if the child is breastfeeding, continue breastfeeding even more than you normally do.
Use Oral rehydration salts (ORS) solution for rehydration. It is a mixture of clean water, salt and sugar.
You can also use ORS packets to prepare solution at home. Thoroughly mix 6 level teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 level teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 litre of clean water. Be very careful. Mix in the correct amounts.
Avoid too much sugar. It can make the diarrhoea worse. But also, too much salt can be extremely harmful to the child. However, it’s okay to make a mixture a little too diluted (with more than 1 litre of clean water).
Zinc supplements are recommended. This reduces the episodes of the diarrhoea.