Children have diarrhea due to antibiotics - How to treat them?

Antibiotics are drugs commonly used to treat diseases caused by bacteria. However, in addition to its therapeutic effects, the drug can cause some side effects. Diarrhea is one of the common side effects in children, most commonly in children under 2 years old, because they have an underdeveloped immune system and digestive system. 

Why does using antibiotics cause diarrhea?

In the digestive system, there always exists a population of beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria that coexist side by side in a certain ratio. Many studies show that the balance of bacteria in the gut affects our health.

Probiotics have a supporting role the body's immune function and helping reduce symptoms such as: diarrhea (diarrhea due to antibiotics and due to infection), constipation, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), yeast infection, urinary tract infection, gum disease, lactose intolerance, allergic dermatitis, upper respiratory tract infections (ear infection, common cold, sinusitis), septicaemia.

Using antibiotics when sick helps inhibit the growth of bacteria and reduce inflammation caused by bacteria. However, when using one or more antibiotics with strong medicinal properties, high dosage to kill off harmful bacteria, the beneficial bacteria can also be destroyed. The result is an imbalance between two groups of intestinal bacteria. Instead of helping the body absorb nutrients from food, the beneficial bacteria are inhibited, causing indigestion and poor absorption. By the same time, harmful bacteria will secrete toxins that damage the intestinal lining and cause digestive problems (inflammation, edema, hemorrhage in the intestinal lumen), leading to diarrhea in children.

Oral or injected antibiotics can cause diarrhea in children, commonly including: Clindamycin, Erythromycin, Ampicillin, Tetracycline (Doxycycline, Minocycline), Amoxicillin, Penicillin, nhóm Cephalosporin (Cefuroxime, Cefixime, Cefpodoxime), nhóm Quinolones (Ciprofloxacin, Levofloxacin),…

Identification signs

Diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics in children will usually start around day 2 to day 8 of treatment, lasting about 1-7 days. Symptoms that accompany diarrhea when children take antibiotics are often mild, including:

  • Children have no signs of fever and symptoms of the disease are treated with antibiotics.
  • Children have abdominal pain and diarrhea many times, the frequency of bowel movements is more than 3 times/day.
  • Children have to strain every time they defecate.
  • The children's stools contain mucus, raw stool, and blood.
  • Stools are foamy, green, yellow and lumpy.
  • The anus reddens (occurs due to acidic stools)

Most cases of antibiotic-induced diarrhea in children are mild and can go away on their own after stopping the medication. In some cases, diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics is severe, causing serious damage with symptoms of severe dehydration, enteritis, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, etc. At this time, parents need to take their child to the hospital for timely examination and treatment.

What should you do when your children have diarrhea after taking antibiotics?

When children have diarrhea due to taking antibiotics, many parents will fall into a state of confusion, worry and start looking for ways to help improve their children's diarrhea. However, at this time, parents should stay calm, monitor the symptoms and take the following notes:

* Continue using antibiotics

During antibiotic treatment, if the child shows signs of diarrhea, parents should promptly notify the treating doctor for instructions on proper care and to prevent dehydration from occurring.

  • For children with mild diarrhea, no signs of dehydration: Parents should continue to give their children antibiotics at the correct dosage prescribed by the doctor because arbitrarily stopping the medication will increase the risk of antibiotic resistance, making it difficult to treat the disease later. In addition, parents can consult a doctor about how to use some appropriate digestive enzymes to support their children.
  • For children with severe diarrhea and dehydration: Parents should take their children to the hospital urgently and stop giving them antibiotics. At this time, children need to be rehydrated, compensated with electrolytes, and have acid-base balance.

* Provide enough water

Diarrhea causes children to lose water quickly, so children with diarrhea need to drink more water than usual. Parents can consult about using rehydration and electrolyte replacement solutions such as Oresol for children. For young children who are still in the exclusive breastfeeding stage, mothers should increase the number of feedings for the child, ensuring that they provide enough water for the body every day.

Notice, children with diarrhea due to taking antibiotics should limit drinking fruit juice, soft drinks and other beverages because they can make diarrhea worse.

* Pay attention to the type of foods for your children

Children with diarrhea should have a separate diet. Instead of feeding children regular foods, mothers should prioritize choosing foods that are liquid, soft and easy to digest but still ensure they provide enough nutrients for children. This will help reduce the burden on the digestive system, thereby helping children feel more comfortable and at ease.

Mothers should avoid giving children beans, spicy, hot, greasy foods, dishes made from seafood, frozen foods, etc. On the contrary, mothers should choose vegetables that retain water such as carrots, squash, bananas, oranges, beets, etc. and supplement digestive enzymes for children, helping children have more energy and digest food easily.

* Prevention diaper rash

For young children who are still using diapers, parents should pay attention to gently and properly cleaning the area around the anus and diaper area. Before wearing diapers, mothers should apply a layer of Vaseline or anti-diaper cream (Zincofax, Penaten,...) to prevent diaper rash for children.