Food Poisoning & Stomach Illness: Prevention and Treatment


  • When a child goes to the toilet the stools are more watery and less solid.
  • The child might also pass stool more often than usual.
  • It is often caused by viruses and bacteria – invisible living things that infect the human body.


  • Diarrhoea causes children to lose water and important salts in their bodies.
  • This can be life threatening for the child.
  • About 1.5 million children under 5 years old die every year from diarrhoea.
  • It is the second most common cause of death in children.


  • Give your child safe water.
  • Safe water: Boil all water. Let it cool and use any other ways you know to make water safe before giving to a child.
  • Wash your hands with soap as often as you can. This will prevent 4 out of 10 episodes of diarrhoea.
  • Dispose of human stool in a safe way. Make sure you keep it away from water sources.
  • Feed your children as well as possible to keep them healthy.
  • Breastfeed your child. Only give breast milk until they are 6 months old. After they are 6 months old give them breast milk with some food until they are 2 years old.
  • Make sure your child is given all their vaccinations.

1. See a trained health worker as soon as your child starts passing different, more watery stool. They can provide the treatment your child needs.
2. Keep feeding and/or breast feeding your child. Your child still needs the energy the food provides. Food also helps children fight the infection. If when they are fed they are sick, wait 10 minutes and then continue feeding more slowly.
3. Give your child oral rehydration solution
– This is a special powder that has all the salts to replace those your child loses.
– It will not make the diarrhoea go away, but can save your child’s life by replacing the salts and water they lose.
– Give it to your child as soon as they start passing more watery stool.
– You can get it from a trained health worker.
– You can also get it from a pharmacy, market, or shop if you cannot see a trained health worker.
– To use the solution:

1. Wash your hands with soap
2. Put the powder into a clean container
3. Check the instructions on the packet and add the correct amount of clean water (not milk or juice)
4. Stir well and give it to the child from a cup

– How much?

  • As much as your child will drink
  • For a child less than 2 years – ¼ – ½ a large cup of solution after each watery stool
  • For a child more than 2 years – ½ – 1 large cup of solution after each watery stool
  • If your child is sick, wait 10 minutes and give it again

4. If you cannot get any oral rehydration solution you can make helpful drinks at home, but these are not as good as proper oral rehydration solution.

  • Sugar/salt mixture 6 teaspoons of sugar + ½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 litre clean water . Be careful to get amounts right, too much salt or sugar and too little water can be harmful.
  • Homemade remedy – ½-1 cup of cooked cereal or 1½ tablespoons of sugar + 2 cups of water + ½ teaspoon of salt . Mix well
  • Gruel Cook your local cereal (rice, potato, sorghum, millet). Add clean water and then boil. It should be watery so your child can drink it.
  • Soups
  • Green coconut water
  • Weak tea
  • If no other fluids are available, give clean water
  • Give as much as possible of these homemade treatments, just like you would for oral rehydration solution

5. Give your child zinc tablets or syrup
– This helps the diarrhoea get better quicker
– It may also give your child more energy
– Trained health workers can give this to you and explain how much to give
6. Diarrhoea usually stops on its own after 3-4 days, if it goes on longer you must see a trained health worker
You should go back and see them again if your child:
– Is not able to drink or breastfeed
– Gets sicker
– Develops a fever
– Has blood in their stool
a. Diarrhoea is when stool becomes more fluid and comes more often.
b. It is a dangerous condition. Many children die from it if they are not cared for.
c. Preventing diarrhoea is the best way to stop children dying.

1) Give your child safe water
2) Wash your hands with soap
3) Dispose of human waste safely
4) Breastfeed until 2 years of age
5) Get all vaccinations for your child

d. If your child gets diarrhoea:

1) See a trained health worker as soon as possible, follow their advice
2) Keep feeding your child especially if breastfeeding
3) If you cannot see a medical professional give your child oral rehydration solution or make your own homemade fluids.

[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page=”4″]