Medical Q&As

Diarrhoea - related to teething?

My 7-month-old son has diarrhoea and some vomiting for a week now. He is keeping some fluids down and does not have a temperature. Could this be a virus, teething or gastro-enteritis? He is in good spirits and not dehydrated.

You say that your baby is in good spirits and is not dehydrated, which is a very important and positive observation. Dehydration in a young infant is potentially very serious therefore it is important to seek medical assistance if you suspect that your child is dehydrating. The signs of dehydration may include the following; reduced urination giving rise to drier nappies, listlessness, tearless crying, sunken fontanelle and dry skin or lips. Typical triggers of diarrhoea in infants include gastrointestinal infections, colds, antibiotics, and too much fruit or juice in the diet. Diarrhoea can also be caused by food poisoning, allergies or enzyme deficiencies. There is some dispute about the relationship between teething and diarrhoea. Some maintain that increased saliva production associated with teething can cause loosening of the stools due to the activity of the enzymes contained in saliva. Others maintain that such diarrhoea is due to infection because teething infants have a tendency to put things in their mouths thereby running the risk of swallowing contaminants which in turn leads to diarrhoea. So the answer to your question is that your baby’s current mild symptoms could be due to a virus, teething or gastroenteritis. Continue to ensure that your baby drinks plenty of liquids to guard against dehydration. If the gastrointestinal symptoms persist much longer it would be reasonable to have the child medically assessed.