Diarrhoea is a condition in which loose, watery stools are passed with greater frequency than normal.Diarrhoea occurs when the bowel or large intestine becomes irritated. This can be caused by many things, including infection, chemical toxins, inflammation, or stress and anxiety. The bowel responds to this irritation in three ways.
Diarrhoea in infants can cause:
* belly cramping or pain, which may disrupt sleep.
* loss of appetite.
* frequent, watery stools. In more serious situations, stools may contain pus or blood.
* sluggishness and less activity than usual.
* less interest in feeding.
It is important to be able to tell the difference between diarrhoea and the normal, loose, watery stools of infants in the first 6 to 8 weeks of life. Breast-fed infants normally have stools that look like watery, yellow cottage cheese, although a greenish colour can be noted on occasions. Their stools also are frequent, often occurring during or after each feeding. Breast milk stools usually are sweet-smelling as compared to the stools of formula-fed infants.
Most infants, even those fed formula, have frequent, watery stools until they are 6 to 8 weeks old. After that, the stools become firmer and less frequent. In fact, infants that are only fed breast milk beyond the first 2 months of life may have a stool only every 7 to 10 days. As long as the stool is soft, this is normal. Babies' stools are firmer once they start on solid food.
Most diarrhoea in infants is caused by stomach viruses, This condition is viral gastroenteritis. Although diarrhoea is common, there are side effects that can become serious if left untreated.Diarrhoea results in more fluid than normal going into the stools. This can leave a baby's body without enough fluid to meet its needs, a condition called dehydration. Infants are small and do not have a lot of fluid in their bodies.
Diarrhoea, especially in toddlers, can last a long time. If it is accompanied by persistent loss of appetite, it can lead to nutritional problems, although this is unusual.