In the past a number of laboratory tests were used to evaluate a child with diarrhea and/or vomiting. Because ORT has become the preferred method of treating diarrhea, routine laboratory testing is no longer necessary. Adequate therapy can be given for most children with acute diarrhea without laboratory testing. Most episodes of diarrhea are self-limiting.
Indications for laboratory testing are:
1. Child with severe dehydration or shock
2. Child receiving intravenous rehydration therapy
3. Suspicion of electrolyte imbalance like hypernatremia or hypokalemia
4. Child with dysentery
Stool examination is seldom required in children with acute watery diarrhea. Child with dysentery may show stool with a large number of leucocytes
indicating an inflammatory bacterial process. In the absence of gross blood or leucocytes, costly stool culture has very low yield and is rarely necessary. If the stool pH is less than 5.5 various other noninfectious causes like lactose intolerance should
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