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Oh goody, diarrhea. My favorite subject and yours as well, I’m sure.

What can cause diarrhea?

Diarrhea is caused by an infection of the intestines, leaving our stools watery, yellow, or green. It is usually because of a virus also known as the stomach flu. If you think that’s what you or your kiddo are dealing with, let us know in the Kinsa app so you can get more specific information!

Diarrhea can also be caused by bacteria or parasites, lactose intolerance, food allergies, certain medications, or eating/drinking too much sugar. Traveler’s diarrhea can occur if you’ve been out of the country and is caused by germs in food/water.

Chronic diarrhea is when you experience loose stool or watery stool for more than 2-4 weeks. Causes of chronic diarrhea? Irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease are a few examples.

Diarrhea symptoms:

  • Cramping or pain in your belly
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Frequent bathroom trips
  • Color/texture changes: watery, yellow, or green diarrhea
  • Mucus in the stool

You might experience other symptoms, specifically if this is caused by a virus, such as fever and chills. Again, throw those symptoms in the Kinsa app so we can make sure we’re helping you the best we can!

Why is my poop yellow?

This is a common concern, so I just figured we’d be blunt about it and put it out there. Yellow poop can occur for a handful of reasons:

  • Diet is the main reason that doesn’t need to cause concern. It will sort itself out in no time.
  • Some chronic issues, as briefly mentioned above, might include problems with your liver, pancreas, or gallbladder. You will most likely have other symptoms jumping on board if something chronic is at play here. Trust your instincts and call your doctor if you have other concerning symptoms.
  • What about our babies? Yellow poop is perfectly normal and expected in our newborns.
  • Normal stool colors are any shade of yellow, green, tan, or brown. Worrisome colors are red, black, and white.

The biggest concern with diarrhea is dehydration. Everything is coming out and even if you’re drinking well, it isn’t being absorbed as well as usual. Especially if you have vomiting and diarrhea! If you or your kiddo is lethargic, has a dry mouth and lips, or hasn’t peed in over 8 hours – call your doctor.

Call your doctor for:

  • Bloody diarrhea.
  • Black diarrhea, or tarry. (Unless we’re talking about our tiny babes again – black, tarry stools are exactly what you should see from birth to about 3 days of life. This is called meconium. Then it switches to yellow!)
  • Babe <1 month old has 3 or more episodes of diarrhea.
  • Babe <3 months old has 10 or more episodes of diarrhea.
  • Babe <1 year old has 8 or more episodes of diarrhea in 8 hours.
  • Everyone else? See the doctor if diarrhea continues past 2 weeks.
  • There is severe pain in the belly.
  • Fever, depending on age:
  • 0-3 months: >100.4 F rectally
  • 3-24 months: >102 F
  • 2 yrs+: >103 F
  • Fever present more than 3 days.

What to eat when you have diarrhea?

  • Keep drinking! Water, rehydration solutions (such as Pedialyte), unsweetened sports drinks, and ice pops are good options. They even make Pedialyte popsicles!
  • Eat starchy foods (cereal, bread, pasta).
  • Eat salty foods (crackers or soup).
  • Avoid foods high in fiber and sugar.
  • Eat yogurt with live cultures.
  • Consider probiotics.
  • Avoid juices unless your child will not drink anything else. In that case, dilute apple juice with water (50% water, 50% juice).

What to do for toddler diarrhea or baby diarrhea?

  • Same as above! They can continue drinking water, breastmilk, or formula. Just try to increase the frequency at which they are drinking to avoid dehydration.
  • Infant cereal is a great choice for babies under 1 year old.
  • They may drink Oral Rehydration Solution (Pedialyte or a store brand) if you’re worried about dehydration, as long as it is not their sole intake for >6 hours.
  • <1 yr old: 2-4 oz of the solution after each watery stool.
  • >1 yr old: 4-8 oz of the solution after each watery stool.
  • Kids older than 3 years old don’t often need a rehydration solution.
  • Diarrhea increases the risk of diaper rashes. Consider using a protective ointment on their little bum and changing them at least once through the night as well. Wash their bottom well with a soft cloth and warm water, using a mild soap if needed. Avoid using diaper wipes as an extra precaution. Wash your hands frequently – if this is from a stomach bug, you want to prevent the whole family from getting it!

No need to reach for any medications, especially if this is a short-lived bug. As stated above, if the diarrhea continues and you need to call your doctor, you can discuss medications at that time. Especially with our kiddos, antidiarrheals are not advised. Just let your body do its thing and stay close to a bathroom!

Blake Wageman

Blake Wageman, RN, BSN has over 14 years of nursing under her belt, primarily focused on NICU babies and, just as importantly, their worried parents.