KidsMD Health Topics

Diarrhea in Children

  • What is diarrhea in children?

    Diarrhea is defined as watery stool, increased frequency of bowel movement, or both. In most cases, diarrhea in children lasts no more than a few days and goes away on its own. These short-term (or acute) cases of diarrhea are usually related to bacterial or viral infections.

    In other cases, diarrhea may last for weeks at a time— this is called chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea may also be caused by infections such as giardia, but is more likely to be caused by a chronic medical condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or an inflammatory condition such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or celiac disease. 

    Chronic diarrhea in children may indicate a larger health problem. If your child has diarrhea for more than a few days, consult your doctor.

    When should you call the doctor about diarrhea?

    For mild diarrhea, you can typically wait for your child to get better and use home care remedies.

    According to the National Institutes of Health, you should call your doctor if your newborn (under 3 months old) has diarrhea. Also call your physician if your child has:

    • Blood, mucus, or puss in the stool

    • More than eight stools in eight hours

    • Vomiting that continues for more than 24 hours

    • Fever and diarrhea lasting more than two to three days

    • Stomach pain or abdominal cramping

    • Diarrhea that develops within one week of travel outside of the United States or after a camping trip (the diarrhea may be due to bacteria or parasites that require treatment)

    • Diarrhea that keeps returning, or if your child is losing weight

    • Much less activity than normal (e.g., not sitting up at all or not looking around)

    Severe and/or chronic diarrhea may indicate a serious disease, and it is important to consult your child's health care provider if the symptoms persist or affect daily activities. Identifying the cause of the problem may be difficult. 

    Seek medical help immediately if your child shows signs of dehydration: 

    • Dry and sticky mouth

    • No urine for six hours

    • No tears when crying

    • Sunken eyes

    How Boston Children's Hospital approaches diarrhea in children

    Boston Children’s is the #1 ranked pediatric gastroenterology department (U.S. News & World Report, 2014-15), and our team includes the best doctors and clinicians for children. Our expansive care team can help parents struggling with a diagnosis to find a solution by providing individualized treatment plans and access to more specialized care than any other hospital. The Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition can help with the diagnosis and treatment of different gastrointestinal diseases, including problematic and/or chronic diarrhea. 

    Contact Us to Make an Appointment:

    Contact the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Boston Children’s Hospital to make an appointment: 617-355-6058617-355-6058

    Click here for information about our other locations throughout the Boston area.


Request an Appointment

If this is a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1. This form should not be used in an emergency.

Patient Information
Date of Birth:
Contact Information
Appointment Details
Send RequestIf you do not see the specialty you are looking for, please call us at: 617-355-6000.International visitors should call International Health Services at +1-617-355-5209.
Please complete all required fields

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

Thank you.

Your request has been successfully submitted

You will be contacted within 1 business day.

If you have questions or would like more information, please call:

617-355-6000 +1-617-355-6000
close
Find a Doctor
Search by Clinician's Last Name or Specialty:
Select by Location:
Search by First Letter of Clinician's Last Name: *ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
BrowseSearch
Condition & Treatments
Search for a Condition or Treatment:
Show Items Starting With: *ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
View allSearch
Locations

Contact the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO
Close