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Diarrhoea refers to the frequent passage of loose watery stools due to an infection of the intestines. The infection may or may not be accompanied by vomiting, fever and abdominal pain.
The diarrhoea usually lasts for 2 to 4 days. Occasionally, it may persist up to 10 days. This infection of the intestine is known as gastroenteritis.
Viruses are usually responsible for this infection. The commonest virus resulting in gastroenteritis is rotavirus.
Rarely, it can be caused by bacterial infections such as salmonella, camphylobacter or shigella.
The major problem with gastroenteritis is dehydration (drying out). This occurs when your child loses too much fluid from the diarrhoea and vomiting.
Increasing the amount of liquid intake for your child can prevent dehydration.
Features that may suggest dehydration include not passing urine, loss of weight, tiredness, dry tongue, eyes and lips and increasing heart rate.
Majority of children with gastroenteritis do not need any medication.
The main treatment is to ensure your child remains well hydrated.
Occasionally, your doctor may give you some medication for stomach pain or vomiting.
Generally, medications used to stop diarrhoea in adults are not used in children due to side effects.