Diarrhea Specialist

Kansas City Pediatrics

Pediatrics located in Kansas City, MO

When your child has frequent loose or watery stools, they may have a virus that is causing diarrhea and could be at risk for dehydration. Scott Dattel, MD, FAAP, and the Kansas City Pediatrics team, located in Kansas City, Missouri, offer assessment and treatment for your child when they are feeling ill from common childhood illnesses, like diarrhea. For a consultation, call or schedule an appointment online.

Diarrhea Q & A

What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a condition where your child has frequent loose or watery stools. It is normal for children to have an occasional loose bowel movement, but if this happens multiple times in one day, they may have diarrhea. 

Diarrhea could be acute and last from three to six days or could be chronic and last up to two weeks. Dehydration is the primary concern when your child’s diarrhea lasts more than a day or so because they are losing fluid through their bowels. This is much more of a concern if they are vomiting at the same time as they have diarrhea. 

Usually, diarrhea is not a reason to worry, as long as your child is drinking and eating well. 

What causes diarrhea?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, viruses are the leading cause of diarrhea in children. Viruses cause problems such as rotavirus or viral gastroenteritis, also called the common stomach flu.

Other causes may include:

  • Bacteria
  • Parasites
  • Changes in diet
  • Drinking too much juice
  • Food allergies
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Side effects of some medications
  • Chronic conditions, such as celiac disease

For most children, diarrhea resolves within a few days without the need for medical treatment. If your child frequently suffers from diarrhea or they have symptoms of dehydration, it's important that you seek treatment from the team at Kansas City Pediatrics.

When is diarrhea a concern? 

If your child has signs of dehydration, it's essential that you seek treatment for their diarrhea. When your child has a virus, they may also vomit or have a fever, which may increase their risk for dehydration. 

Signs that your child may be dehydrated include:

  • They play less than usual
  • They have a dry mouth
  • They appear thirsty
  • They do not produce their normal amount of urine
  • They have fewer tears

Signs of severe dehydration could include:

  • Extreme fussiness
  • Abnormal sleepiness
  • Sunken eyes
  • Sunken soft spot, in infants
  • Cool, discolored hands and feet
  • Wrinkled skin

You should call Kansas City Pediatrics for an appointment if your child has severe abdominal pain, bloody stools, or if their vomiting lasts more than 12 to 24 hours. 

What are the treatments for diarrhea?

Your pediatric specialist at Kansas City Pediatrics may recommend treatments that include:

  • Temporary changes to your child’s diet
  • Offering electrolyte-infused liquids
  • Avoiding sugary drinks
  • Testing for specific viruses
  • Testing for food or other allergies
  • Stool testing for gastrointestinal infections
  • Testing for celiac or other chronic disorders
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infection

Unless your practitioner instructs otherwise, you should continue feeding your child their regular diet and breastfeeding as usual. 

If your child has diarrhea or you have concerns that they may be dehydrated, call or schedule an appointment online with Kansas City Pediatrics today.