Though diarrhea occurs in adults, the disease affects children very badly leading to even loss of life. Diarrhea is often caused by malabsorption that is the inability of the body to make use of the food it takes in. There are mainly three types of diarrhea, Acute Diarrhea that lasts for a period of less than seven days, Persistent Diarrhea that lasts for more than 7 days and Chronic Diarrhea lasting for over 30 days.
The Causes of Persistent Diarrhea
A variety of reasons can be responsible for causing Persistent Diarrhea such as after-infection of diarrhea. Children, who suffered from acute diarrhea episode, might continue to have diarrhea or some weeks as a result of after-infection.
Studies have revealed that persistent diarrhea is less in infants who had been breastfed. Infants who are breastfed are less prone to diarrheal episodes than the ones who are not breastfed.
The other causes of persistent diarrhea in children are celiac disease, which is an allergy to protein found in rye, wheat and barley, any other kind of food allergy and infection caused by parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Excessive intake of laxatives; inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and pancreatic disorders like pancreatic insufficiency or cystic fibrosis might be the other causes.
Certain medical conditions can also be responsible for causing persistent diarrhea such as overactive thyroid, deficiency of iron, zinc, vitamin A and presence of diseases like measles and many more. Malnutrition also increases the duration of the persistent diarrhea and the risk of death in children.
How to treat Persistent Diarrhea
The method of treating Persistent Diarrhea is similar to that of Acute Diarrhea. The first step entails the replacement of stool looses with appropriate fluids such as water and electrolyte. For this, patients should be given Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT).
The other important step is dietary management because this disease is associated with lactose intolerance, malnutrition and probably micronutrient deficiency. Appropriate feeding measures should be taken, especially in case of children. The amount of animal milk should be reduced in their diet and should mainly be breastfed. This is required as during the period of persistent diarrhea, the production of lactase can decline and result in slow digestion of lactose. The intake of lactose should be reduced to 30 to 50 ml of cow’s milk per day and should be given after mixing it with cereal. Another way of reducing the lactose intake is by replacing cow’s milk with fermented milk products like yogurt.
Persistent diarrhea calls for immediate treatment. Studies reveal that it forms 3% to 23% of diarrhea cases. Taking adequate prevention and curing it in its early stage will ensure the quick recovery and healthy life of a child.