Pediatric Diarrhoea

The signs, symptoms and treatment of Pediatric Diarrhoea

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WHAT IS ACUTE DIARRHOEA IN CHILDREN?

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  • Defined as a sudden onset of stools which are looser than normal and increased in frequency compared to normal, with or without vomiting.1a
  • In South Africa, diarrhoea is commonly caused by a viral infection but may also be caused by bacteria or parasites.2a
  • Most cases of diarrhoea in children are caused by bacterial infections in the summer months and rotavirus in the winter months.2b

HOW SERIOUS IS DIARRHOEAL DISEASE IN CHILDREN?

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  • Fluid loss from diarrhoea or vomiting may result in dehydration and electrolyte (water and salt) imbalance. This may lead to more serious symptoms and hospitalisation if the fluid loss is not adequately treated.3a

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION?

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  • Does not pass urine frequently.
  • Is lethargic and less active/playful than usual.
  • Drinks poorly.
  • Has a dry mouth.
  • Cries with no tears.
  • Has a fever.

How to prevent dehydration in children with acute diarrhoea.3c

  • Give the child more fluids.
  • Children younger than one year should get special fluids called oral rehydration solutions (ORS).3c

WHAT IS ORAL REHYDRATION SOLUTION?

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  • An oral rehydration solution (ORS) is a mixture of water, salts and sugar in specific amounts. These solutions can be absorbed even when your child has large amounts of diarrhoea or is vomiting.6

Oral rehydration solutions can be used to:

  • Keep children well hydrated when they have significant amounts of diarrhoea.
  • Replace lost fluids when children show signs of mild dehydration.6
  • Oral rehydration solutions are available at pharmacies in ready-to-serve preparations, or one can make their own solution at home.6

VISITING THE HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER

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  • Visit a HCP if the child is not better 24 hours after starting to drink more fluids or if he or she keeps vomiting up the fluids.3d
  • A HCP will be able to classify the degree of dehydration on examination and suggest treatment based on physical examination findings.1b

HOW CAN ONE PREVENT DIARRHOEA IN CHILDREN?

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You can’t always prevent it, but there are things that can help:3e

  • Children who breastfeed are less likely to get it.
  • Children should get the vaccine (shot) to prevent rotavirus, which is a common cause of diarrhoea.
  • Make sure children wash their hands often to help get rid of germs that can cause infection
  • Clean surfaces that have been touched by a sick child.




  1. The National Department of Health, South Africa: Essential Drugs Programme. Primary Healthcare Standard Treatment Guideline and Essential Medicine List. 7th ed. South African National Department of Health; 2020.
  2. Awotiwon OF, Pillay-van Wyk V, Dhansay A, et al. Diarrhoea in children under five years of age in South Africa (1997-2014). Trop Med Int Health. 2016 Sep;21(9):1060-70.
  3. Gastroenteritis in Children: Treating Dehydration. Am Fam Physician. 2019 Feb 1;99(3):Online.
  4. Farthing M, Salam MA, Lindberg G, et al. Acute diarrhea in adults and children: a global perspective. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2013 Jan;47(1):12-20.
  5. Prisco A, Capalbo D, Guarino S, et al. How to interpret symptoms, signs and investigations of dehydration in children with gastroenteritis. Arch Dis Child Educ Pract Ed. 2021 Apr;106(2):114-119.
  6. Canadian Paediatric Society. https://caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/health-conditions andtreatments/dehydration_and_diarrhea#:~:text=An%20oral%20rehydration%20solution%20(ORS)%20is 20a%20mixture%20of%20water,have%20significant%20amounts%20of%20diarrhea.

For Full Prescribing Information Refer to the Package Insert Approved by the Medicines Regulatory Authority. Approved Date: July 2023. Promotional Material Reference Number: SAF2235194.
Abbott Laboratories S.A. (Pty) Ltd, Reg. No: 1940/014043/07. Abbott Place, 219 Golf Club Terrace, Constantia Kloof, 1709. Tel: +27 11 858 2000.

HIDRASEC® INFANTS 10 mg granules for oral suspension. Each sachet contains 10 mg of racecadotril. Reg. No.: South Africa: S1 47/11.9/0011.
HIDRASEC® CHILDREN 30 mg granules for oral suspension. Each sachet contains 30 mg, of racecadotril. Reg. No.: South Africa: S1 47/11.9/0012.

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