Diarrhoea: One of the largest killers of children

Diarrhoea: One of the largest killers of children

Diarrhoea is rated as the second largest disease that kill children. It is regarded as a common ailment and this is the very reason why it neglected by many. Every year, over 40% of children die globally because of this disease and children who die are mostly
below the age of six.


Diarrhoea causes dehydration which simply means water loss. When people lose 2% of water in their body, they will begin to feel sick while losing up to 10% might lead to death. Diarrhoea basically involves the rapid and abnormal passage of food through the intestines. This often prevents the food from being absorbed into the body and it is passed out through the anus in the form of watery faeces. In some cases, vomiting and nausea can occur and this result in losing more water. Some people when experiencing diarrhoea refer to it as running stomach or stomach upset. While it can take longer for an adult to lose considerable amount of water in the body which can seriously result to dehydration; infants and young children can dehydrate much faster making it extremely dangerous and deadly.


The most noticeable or common symptoms of diarrhoea include the following: fatigue, urine colour changes, dry skin, thirst etc. Because of the fact that infants or babies cannot express how they feel, it is essential for an adult who is looking after the child to look out for the physical symptoms of diarrhoea. These symptoms include: lack of tears when crying, a dry mouth and tongue, inability of the skin to flatten when the child is pinched, the child’s pampers or diapers not being wet after several hours. As diarrhoea becomes intense, check out symptoms such as irritability, sunken eyes, abdomen and cheeks.


Diarrhoea is caused by contaminated water or food usually with faeces or urine from humans or animals. Contamination can occur in different ways. House flies and other species of flies can contaminate food when they walk on it. Using a toilet without washing someone’s hands can result in contamination. Wells without cover can be easily contaminated. Ponds, streams, and lakes can also be contaminated.


Diarrhoea can be prevented through the following methods:

  1. Boiling and filtering water before drinking: This can help in preventing water contamination because through the process of boiling; germs in the water are gotten rid of. 
  2. Maintain good hygiene: This entails many things which include keeping the house clean, washing of hands after using the toilet, eating balanced diet, washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly with salt before consumption, washing of meat with salt before cooking etc.


Treatment of diarrhoea in most cases involves the replacement of water which the body has lost. To enhance the absorption of food and water in the body; sugar and salt are added to the water. This not only replenishes the lost water, but it may quench, stop or slow the diarrhoea itself. Medicines can be helpful in stopping diarrhoea but they are not often recommended for individuals whose diarrhoea is caused by parasites or bacterial infection. In most cases, medications many a time relieve the discomfort of diarrhoea but often do a little to replenish the lost water or prevent dehydration. Also these medications which are used by adults can be dangerous to children.
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