Diarrhea - what to ask your doctor - child

Diarrhea is when your child has more than two very loose bowel movements in 1 day. For many children, diarrhea is mild and will pass within a few days. For others, it may last longer. It can make you feel weak and dried out (dehydrated). It can also lead to unhealthy weight loss.

A stomach or intestinal illness can cause diarrhea. It can be a side effect of medical treatments, such as antibiotics and some cancer treatments.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your child when he or she has diarrhea.


What foods can make my child's diarrhea worse? How should I prepare the foods that my child eats?

  • If my child is still breastfeeding or bottle feeding, do I need I stop? Should I water down my child's formula?
  • Can I feed my child milk, cheese, or yogurt? Can I give my child any dairy foods?
  • What type of bread, crackers, or rice is best for my child?
  • Can I feed my child any sweets? How about artificial sugar?
  • Do I need to worry about my child getting enough salt and potassium?
  • Can my child drink anything with caffeine, such as coffee or tea? Fruit juices? Carbonated drinks?
  • Which fruits and vegetables are best for my child? How should I prepare them?

How much water or liquid should my child drink during the day? How can I tell when my child is not drinking enough? If my child will not drink, what are other ways to get my child enough fluids?

Is it safe to give my child medicines from the store that may help slow the diarrhea down?

Are there foods my child should eat to prevent too much weight loss?

Do any of the medicines, vitamins, herbs, or supplements my child is taking cause diarrhea? Should I stop giving my child any of them?

Does having diarrhea mean my child has a more serious medical problem?

When should I call the doctor?

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about diarrhea - child; Loose stools - what to ask your doctor - child

Update Date: 10/7/2012

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


Notice: The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2012, A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.