FREQUENT DIARRHEA IN INFANTS & TODDLERS: WHAT ARE WE MISSING?

Welcome back everyone! 

We will yet again be tackling another very important health subject in Nigeria. Malaria, Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (aka cold,catarrh, cough) and Gastroenteritis (aka diarrhea) are responsible for at least 75% of the reasons mums (and sometimes dads) present in the consulting room. In subsequent articles, we will deal with the first two. Today, however, will be devoted to diarrhea and what we can do to reduce occurrence.

 

In this wonderful country of mine, we have names for two categories of people: The “ajebutters” and “ajepakis”. If you are Nigerian and reading this, I’m sure it needs no further explanation.It’s funny, you know, I’ve heard so many people tease the rest of us (I too refuse to accept the ajebutter label) of being too sheltered, that our bellies can’t handle “tough” food or water. I am here to firmly debunk this. Diarrhea is caused by:

(P.S – looks almost too  pretty to be so dangerous)

  • Rota-virus Infection
  • Contaminated food or water
  • Hygiene habits when mixing feed for infants
  • Drugs
  • Food allergies
  • Intestinal disease and a whole range of other causatives

This article will focus on the simple things within your own power to influence the health of your children.

  • Remember our previous topic? BREASTFEEDING! Boosts immunity and reduces probability of contaminated utensils and the likes; at least until your child is old enough to ward of infections more easily
  • Vaccinate. Rota-virus Vaccine is available in Nigeria
  • Keep your floors clean. Kids will always be kids. See, they don’t understand what “impurities” are. Whatever they pick up off of the floor is heading to one destination – The Mouth. YIKES!

  • Select your Kindergarten/Day Care Center carefully. This can’t be over-emphasized. One kid has something? Almost everyone else has it. Full Stop. How do you tell kids not to play with one another?

  • Wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly. This is Nigeria. Need I remind you of the profile of those who sell fruit by the roadside? I watched a video some time ago with horror. Some fruit being fished out of the gutter by a seller whose cart was overturned….it was almost enough to make me swear off fruits entirely. 😨

  • Keep ORS (oral re-hydration solution) at home. In the olden days, you would have to measure out sugar and salt but, YAY FOR TECHNOLOGY! we only need to dissolve the powder in water and VOILA! your drink is ready

Most diarrheas are self limiting. However, keeping your child re-hydrated is absolutely important. Diarrhea may last from 24 hrs to a week, depending on how bad. If after 48-72 hrs you still don’t see improvement,please make a beeline for your doctor’s office.

Before I conclude, for those of you out there who have teased the “ajebutters” mercilessly, I may have to agree with you to an extent on this topic. The human body is amazingly resilient. Protracted exposure to contaminated environments forces the body to build up defences. Not in all cases, mind you. Some don’t survive such onslaughts. Better safe than sorry, I always say.  

Hope this helps. Next time we will be discussing my favourite topic of all time……………………………………Nah, I’m not telling you yet. Stay tuned. 😉😉 

Have a deliciously sanitary, diarrhea-free weekend ahead. 😀😁

If you have any comments or contributions on today’s topic, be quick to send me a mail at feedback@healthcare-ng.com I will be glad to read from you and answer all your questions.

Author: Dr. Lola Odubitan, MBBS

 

 

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