Diarrhoea is defined as the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day (or more frequent passage than is normal for the individual).
NOTE : Frequent passing of formed stools is not diarrhoea, nor is the passing of loose, “pasty” stools by breastfed babies.
Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old. It is both preventable and treatable.
Facts on diarroea in children
Each year diarrhoea kills around 525 000 children under five.
A significant proportion of diarrhoeal disease can be prevented through safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation and hygiene.
Globally, there are nearly 1.7 billion cases of childhood diarrhoeal disease every year.
Diarrhoea is a leading cause of malnutrition in children under five years old.
Diarrhoea Causes, Spread, Prevention
It is usually a symptom of an infection in the intestinal tract, which can be caused by a variety of organisms such as bacterial, viral and parasites.
The infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking-water, or from person-to-person as a result of poor hygiene.
Safe drinking-water, use of improved sanitation and hand washing with soap can reduce disease risk are important steps in the prevention of the disease
Diarrhoea is treated with oral rehydration solution (ORS) which aside replenishing the lost fluid, also provides electrolytes to replenish any lost electrolytes. Also dispersible zinc taken for 10-14 days is helpful in the treatment of diarrhea.
Zinc benefits children with diarrhoea because it is a vital micronutrient essential for protein synthesis, cell growth and differentiation, immune function, and intestinal transport of water and electrolytes
How to keep drinking water clean
- Keep drinking water in a clean container, such as a bucket, in a clean place
- Keep the container off the ground, away from children and animals
- Keep the container against a wall, away from windows and the cooking area
- Always keep a clean cover over the container, even when it is empty
- Make sure that the container has no leaks or cracks, and that the lid completely covers the mouth of the container
- Clean the cover every day, with boiling water if possible
- Rinse the bucket or other container for drinking water inside and outside each time it is empty
- Always use the same container, such as a mug, to take water out of the bucket. Do not use this container for any other household tasks
- Pour the water from this container into a clean cup (or clean hands) for drinking
- Never put hands or fingers into the drinking water bucket
- Do not put hands or fingers into the cup; hold it on the outside or by the handle if it has one
- Keep the mug upside down on top of the cover
You should wash your hands with soap and water:
- after using the latrine/defaecating
- before cooking
- before eating or feeding children
- before breastfeeding
- after touching animals and poultry or anything dirty
- after eating
- Keep a special cloth for drying hands; do not use clothes, which may be dirty.
Source – WHO, Rehydrate.org