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Anti-diarrheal agents for children
Diarrhea-causing diseases are dangerous for children, especially babies, as far as this is the case, when the vitally required water and minerals are discharged from the body during a short period of time. Some four million children worldwide die during a year from the diarrhea-causing diseases. In Latvia, diarrhea arises from intestinal infections caused by viruses (mostly rotavirus) in 90% cases.
It should be understood that diarrhea is a symptom and not a disease. It is a natural defensive mechanism of the body, which task is to discharge from the body the bacteria and toxins causing troubles to the intestinal tract. This is why not diarrhea should be treated, but its dangerous consequences, such as dehydration or water and salt loss in the body. The so called anti-diarrheal agents are, at best, ineffective eliminating the disease symptoms temporarily or, at worst, dangerous to life suspending defecation and facilitating the body intoxication.
The simplest and most efficient treatment in case of diarrhea is the so called oral rehydration therapy (ORT) in combination with frequent feeding. The therapy is possible at home by mixing a mineral solution (rehidron) available in drugstores with water and giving it by tots to the sick person. Although efficiency of ORT in preventing and treating dehydration in cases of acute non-bloodstained diarrhea (including cholera) is unexcelled, the pharmaceutical industry spares no efforts for the production and advertising of various anti-diarrheal agents. WHO considers that no drugs exist at present, which stop diarrhea safely and efficiently.
To treat diarrhea, the following groups of drugs are widely used mistakenly:
• drugs slowing intestinal functioning and delaying its emptying;
• antimicrobial remedies (antibiotics);
The intestinal emptying delaying drugs (loperamide (Imodium) and difenoxalat) work so as to stop the symptom – diarrhea. They slow down the intestinal function. It is pointed out by WHO that these drugs are of no significance for children's diarrhea treatment and could be harmful, especially for the children under the age of five years. They could be dangerous and, if misused, cause an infant's death. Antibiotics cannot be used for diarrhea treatment at home, as far as they are inefficient against most organisms, which cause diarrhea. Diarrhea is mostly caused by viruses, but they are not fought by antibiotics (they treat bacterial diseases). For some people, antibiotics just prolong the duration of illness, as far as its misuse can increase antibiotic resistance of bacteria. Use of antibiotics in case of diarrhea can be only started, when its agent is determined and always when advised by doctor.
Adsorbents (kaolin (Smecta), activated carbon and attapulgite) bind with toxins and bacteria. In theory, they should provide for detoxification of intestinal tract, but it is proved by clinical experience that efficiency of such medicines is often doubtful and they are not very much useful for acute diarrhea treatment. They bind poisonous substances in the intestinal tract, but at the same time they bind other medicines as well.
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