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Aug 20, 2015

Healthy Living and Diarrhea Dos and Don’ts

It’s not one of the most comfortable issues to talk about but, as one of the most commonly reported illness; we figured there must be some information that you needed to know about diarrhea.  On average, adults experience four episodes of diarrhea a year, whereas with children those episodes are more frequent. With this frequency there are many different home remedies, but as you’ll discover in tonight’s Healthy Living – not all of your at-home treatments are making your child’s ‘bad belly’ better.

Dr. Cecilio Eck, Pediatrician
“A common cold or asthma; that’s number one worldwide. A close number two is number two – diarrhea.”


Marleni Cuellar reporting

For pediatrician, Dr. Cecilio Eck, one of the most common illnesses he sees in the hospital and clinic is diarrhea. He advises parents to pay attention to the other symptoms that occur along with the diarrhea. If the child has no symptoms then it’s most likely non-infectious. In the other case, the symptoms can vary.

Cecilio Eck

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“We would look to see if the child has any fever. I would ask if there is vomiting and how many episodes. I would ask to see if there are any signs of dehydration and those signs will include dry lip, no tears, no urine. If the child is very lethargic, those would be an indication to reach the nearest hospital to get an IV op for fluids or to give oral rehydration fluid prior to that. The other signs would be depending on the germ that is causing it in the infectious type…joint paints, cramping belly pains, sometimes even blood in the stool. In all the infectious diarrhea categories, in most cases, you have somebody who was the contact—somebody at home, at school or the daycare who was sick. With very young babies, if they get exposed, I usually separate the categories into three by age groups—less than two are the ones who do very poorly. Between two to ten, they do better…they have the vomiting, diarrhea, but they can recover. Me and you, kids above age ten would have the belly pain, the diarrhea, but our bodies recover very quickly. In the younger age group, less than six months is very alarming because these guys deteriorate very quickly.”


Dehydration is the most worrisome complication of diarrhea.


Dr. Cecilio Eck

“It’s one of the reason the ‘mold would drop.’ So people in Belize think that the mold will fall independently, but I tell parents that area is a direct sign of hydration. It will fall not independently, but only if the baby has severe vomiting, diarrhea, fever, is not eating properly. When it start to dip a little bit that’s an indication to reach the hospital to be seen. With dehydration, if there is decreased blood flow to any organ in your body, you have complications associated with it. So if there is decreased blood flow to the kidney, it can cause kidney damage; to the gut, you can have problems with the gut; with digestion, but the major one is when there is decreased blood in your system, you go into shock. So dehydration causes shock, a decrease in your blood pressure, a decrease in your heart rate and can lead to death very quickly in young, young kids.”


Staying hydrated is paramount, but choose wisely the fluids you administer.


Dr. Cecilio Eck

“What we normally use in Belize, Caribbean, Central America are things that do not work but actually makes it worse. Anything that is sweet; that is a huge category. No hot coke, no juice, no lime juice, black tea, fruit juices, Gatorade…anything sweet will make the diarrhea a hundred times worse. And the reason it happens is that once the gut is damaged, the gut cannot absorb glucose or sugar. Once you take anything sweet within the walls of the gut, it can’t be absorbed and so that sugar then pulls fluids from your body into the gut and the diarrhea becomes profuse. The things you can do, God answers for us…coconut water provides a small amount of glucose, a lot of potassium, little bit of sodium and of course the water. Small amount at a time usually does work. You can as well use from the pharmacy, the oral rehydration fluid. It comes as a preformed mixture of everything I just mentioned in a specified amount of water, like a gallon or a pint. Mix it up and give it to the kid and it tastes good.  The third one would be pedialyte and I tell parents that with some kids that don’t like it, to mix it maybe half-half with the Gatorade. The other thing you can do for them to take it is to put it in the freezer and turn it into slush. Kids like ice so you give them small amount.”


In addition to the avoidance of sugar, Dr Eck explains how to get children to keep fluids down especially when the child is experiencing vomiting as well.


Dr. Cecilio Eck

“What not to give, what to give, but how to give it. a lot of people don’t understand if a kid has a bad infection of the gut, bad gastroenteritis, causing you to vomit and have loose stool, they’ll be thirty; they will want to drink. But if they drink a lot of even the good things, it will come back up. So I advise the parents to get their little medicine cup and you will give five to ten milliliters, right about there, you watch the clock…ten minutes past, ten millimeters again and you do that and they do tolerate that. After about an hour of that, you can go up to maybe an ounce at a time. When they start to tolerate, you gradually work in what Americans call the BRAT diet—bananas, rice, applesauce, toasted bread. In Belize, I say toast, oats, Ritz crackers, soda biscuit, toasted bread, noodles, simple soups—nothing too heavy, nothing too complex.”


While there’s little that can be done to entirely prevent diarrhea; you can minimize your risks by practicing good hygiene.

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