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DIARRHEA AND DYSENTERY
When a person has loose or watery stools, he has diarrhea. If mucus and blood can be seen in the stools, he has dysentery.
Diarrhea can be mild or serious. It can be acute (sudden and severe) or chronic (lasting many days).
Diarrhea is more common and more dangerous in young children, especially those who are poorly nourished.
Diarrhea has many causes. Sometimes special treatment is needed. However, most diarrhea can be treated successfully in the home, using Rehydration Drink, even if you are not sure of the exact cause or causes. If a child does not eat much, give him a little food many times a day.
THE MAIN CAUSES OF DIARRHEA
1. Poor nutrition; this weakens the child and makes diayfrom other causes more frequent and worse.
2. Shortage of water and unclean conditions (no latrines) spread the germs that cause diarrhea.
3. Virus infection or ‘intestinal flu’ (diarrhea usually mild).
4. An infection of the gut caused by bacteria, amebas, or giardia.
5. Infections outside the gut (ear infections, tonsillitis, measles, urinary infections.
6. Malaria (falciparum type)
7. Food poisoning (spoiled food)
8. Inability to digest milk (mainly in severely malnourished children and certain adults)
9. Difficulty babies have digesting foods that are new to them.
10. Allergies to certain foods (seafood, crayfish, etc,); occasionally babies are allergic to cow’s milk or other milk.
11. Side effects produced by certain medicines, such as ampicillin or tetracycline.
12. Laxatives, purges, irritating or poisonous plants, certain poisons.
13. Eating too much unripe fruit or heavy, greasy foods.
14. AIDS (long-lasting diarrhea may be an early sign).
Although diarrhea has many different causes, the most common are infection and poor nutrition. With good hygiene and good food, most diarrhea could be prevented. And if treated correctly, fewer children who get diarrhea would die.
Children who are poorly nourished get diarrhea and die from it far more often than those who are well nourished. Yet diarrhea itself can be part of the cause of malnutrition already exists, diarrhea rapidly makes it worse.
This results in a vicious circle, in which each makes the other worse. For this reason, good nutrition is important in both the prevention and treatment of diarrhea.
To learn about the kinds of foods that help the body resist or fight off different illnesses, including diarrhea.
The prevention of diarrhea depends both on good nutrition and cleanliness. These include the use of latrines, the importance of clean water, and the protection of foods from dirt and flies.
Here are some other important suggestions for preventing diarrhea in babies;
1. Breast fees rather than bottle feed babies. Give only breat milk for the first 4 months. Breast milk helps babies resist the infections that cause diarrhea. If it is not possible to breast feed a baby, feed her with a cup and spoon. Do not use a baby bottle because it is harder to keep clean and more likely to cause an infection.
2. When you begin to give the baby new or solid foods, start by giving her just a little, and mashing it well and mixing it with a little breast milk. The baby has to learn how to digest new foods. Do not stop giving breast milk suddenly. Start with other foods while the baby is still breast feeding. If she starts with too much new food at one time, she may get diarrhea.
3. Keep the baby clean–and in a clean place. Try to keep her from putting dirty things in her mouth.
4. Do not give babies unnecessary medicines.
TREATMENT OF DIARRHEA:
For most cases of diarrhea no medicine is needed. If the diarrhea is severe, the biggest danger is malnutrition. So the most important part of treatment has to do with giving enough liquids and enough food.
No matter what the cause of diarrhea, always take care with the following:
1. PREVENT OR CONTROL DEHYDRATION. A person with diarrhea must drink a lot of liquids. If diarrhea is severe or there are signs of dehydration, give him Rehydration Drink. Even if he does not want to drink, gently India that he do so. Have him take several swallows every few minutes.
2. MEET NUTRITIONAL NEEDS. A person with diarrhea needs food as soon as he will eat. This is especially important in small children or persons who are already poorly nourished. Also, when a person has diarrhea, food passes through the gut very quickly and is not all used. So give the person food many times a day–especially if he only takes a little at a time.
FOODS FOR A PERSON WITH DIARRHEA
When the person is vomiting or feels too sick to eat, he should drink:
Watery mush or broth of rice, maize powder, or potato
Rice water (with some mashed rice)
Chicken, meat, egg, or bean broth
As soon as the person is able to eat, in addition to giving the drinks listed at the left, he should eat a balanced selection of the following foods or similar ones:
Ripe or cooked bananas
Rice, oatmeal, or other well-cooked grain fresh maize (well cooked and mashed)
(It helps to add a little sugar or vegetable oil to the cereal food)
Chicken (boiled or roasted)
Meat (well cooked, without much fat or grease)
Beans, lentils, or peas (well cooked and mashed)
Fish (well cooked)
Milk (sometimes this causes problems).
DO NOT EAT OR DRINK
Fatty or greasy foods most raw fruits .
Any kind of laxative or purge.
Highly seasoned food.
DIARRHEA AND MILK
Breat milk is the best food for babies. Keep giving breast milk when the baby has diarrhea. It does not cause diarrhea and will help the baby get better quickly.
Cow’s milk, dry skim milk, and canned milk can be good sources of protein for children who have diarrhea. However, if the child is badly malnourished, he may have trouble digesting the milk, and this may cause even more diarrhea. If this happens, try giving less milk and mixing it with other foods. But remembered: a poorly nourished child with diarrhea must have enough energy foods and protein. If less milk is given, well-cooked and mashed foods such as chicken, egg yolk, meat, fish, or beans should be added. Beans are easier to digest if their skins have been taken off and they are boiled and mashed. They should not be cooked in oil. Soymilk, made from soya beans, is a good substitute.
As the child gets better, he will usually be able to drink more milk without getting diarrhea.
MEDICINES FOR DIARRHEA:
For most cases of diarrhea no medicines are needed. But in certain cases, using the right medicine can be important. However, many of the medicines commonly used for diarrhea do little or no good. Some are actually harmful:
GENERALLY IT IS BETTER NOT TO USE THE FOLLOWING MEDICINES IN THE TREATMENT OF DIARRHEA
SPECIAL TREATMENT IN DIFFERENT CASES OF DIARRHEA:
While most cases of diarrhea can be treated by giving plenty of liquids and food and no medicine, sometimes special treatment is needed.
In considering treatment, keep in mind that some cases of diarrhea, especially in small children, are caused by infections outside the gut. Always check for infections of the ears, the throat, and the urinary system. If found, these infections should be treated. Also look for signs of measles.
If the child has mild diarrhea together with signs of a cold, the diarrhea is probably caused by a virus, or intestinal flu, and no special treatment is called for. Give lots of liquids.
In certain difficult cases of diarrhea, analysis of the stools or other tests may be needed to know how to treat it correctly. But usually you can learn enough from asking specific questions, seeing the stools, and looking for certain signs.
Here are some guidelines for treatment accounts to signs:
1. Sudden, mild diarrhea. No fever. (Upset stomach? ‘Intestinal flu’?)
2. Diarrhea with vomiting. (Many causes)
3. Diarrhea with mucus and specks of blood. Often chronic. No fever. Usually no dehydration. There may be diarrhea some days and constipation others days. (Possibly amebic dysentery).
4. Acute diarrhea with fever, with or without blood. (Bacteria dysentery? Typhoid? Malaria?)
5. Persistent bad-smelling diarrhea, sometimes yellow and frothy, without blood or mucus. (Giardia?)
6. Chronic diarrhea (diarrhea that lasts a long time or keeps coming back).
7. Diarrhea like rice water. (Cholera?)
CARE OF BABIES WITH DIARRHEA
Diarrhea is especially dangerous in babies and small children. Often no medicine is needed, but special care must be taken because a baby can die very quickly of dehydration.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL HELP IN CASES OF DIARRHEA
Diarrhea and dysentery can be very dangerous_especially in small children. In the following situations you should get medical help: