Stomach Flu in Kids

There is a chance that your kid might suffer from the viral stomach flu known as Gastroenteritis which affects the intestinal tract. Gastroenteritis lasts only a couple of days though it is very different from influenza. The stomach flu is thought of as highly contagious and is one of the most common illnesses within the US. Baby Center believes that almost every child would catch the stomach flu once at the very least with its best treatment being a modification in the diet. The article explains how you can recognize symptoms of stomach flu in you kid, when you should call the doctor and what you can do to properly handle the situation.

What Are the Symptoms of Stomach Flu in Kids?

Gastroenteritis shows itself usually in the form of mild or severe vomiting, pain in the abdomen, body aches and diarrhea with the symptoms lasting anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days. 

1.       Fever

Fever is usually a good pointer of stomach viruses in babies with the fever being the body’s response to tackle the virus. While a normal fever can be allowed to run its course, if it goes too high, you should make efforts to bring the temperature down. You shouldn’t worry about the fever much if your baby’s playful mood isn’t affected by it.

How to deal: In case your child starts to cry and starts feeling all tired, it is then important to tackle the fever either through a cool piece of cloth or through over-the-counter medicines. 

2.       Diarrhea

The most common symptom of a viral stomach virus in children is diarrhea which can cause your child to lose a lot of fluids because of constant loose stools. While you shouldn’t give any anti-diarrhea medication to the child, you should ensure that your child doesn’t get dehydrated because of the constant stools.

How to deal: If your child shows any signs of dehydration like dry lips or sunken-in eyes, you should give your doctor a call to know how to tackle the problem. If your child is breast-fed, you should feed him more frequently so as to compensate for the loss of fluids.

When your kid is older, giving your child fluids every half an hour is often the best choice if your child’s symptoms point towards the contagious stomach infection. A couple of ounces of fluids should be enough with water or ice chips being the best options. You should avoid juices or other drinks, as the sugar can worsen the diarrhea. 

3.       Vomiting

Stomach viruses also let their presence known through vomiting which remains a common symptom of both stomach viruses as well as food poisoning. Children usually become the most upset with vomiting as it can stress them out.

How to deal: It is important to stay with your child at all times when he starts to throw up and passes wet stools and you should give your child fluids through a syringe after every half hour. If your child’s condition doesn’t improve and if he becomes too weak, you should take the baby to the hospital right away.

Offer solid food to compensate for lost energy: If your child goes around eight hours without throwing up, you should not hesitate in giving your child bland foods like mashed potatoes or even bread or rice. It remains integral that you compensate for the child’s lost nutrients because of vomiting and diarrhea by giving the child solid food. In case your child doesn’t vomit for an entire day, you can easily put the child back on the regular diet though you should avoid dairy products for at least two days.

When to Call a Doctor

It’s best to call your doctor if your child

  • Has a fever of 103 degrees or higher
  • Has been constantly vomiting for the past 48 hours or so.
  • Is having blood in the stool.
  • Is showing symptoms of dehydration like weariness and sleepiness, sunken-in eyes, burning thirst, cool feet and hands and reduced passing of urine.

Your child might be admitted to the hospital in such a case while the child might even need an IV to replace lost energy. In case the doctor doesn’t respond to your call, you should take the child to an emergency room in case he shows signs of dehydration. The doctor would usually recommend IV dehydration in case the child is highly dehydrated and might keep the child in the hospital for a few hours as well. The doctor might also prescribe an antibiotics course if the child’s blood test shows that the child has an infection (bacterial or parasitic). There is no cause to worry though as there won’t be kept for more than a few hours and should get fine within a couple of days or so.

Dot Not Use Medication Without Consultation

Parents usually treat the symptoms with a viral infection such as gastroenteritis with medications. This is actually a mistake as the viral infection just needs to run its course with medications not being of any help. So, it’s important that you don’t provide medication that treats diarrhea as it might lead to various side-effects.

The best thing to do is to simply call your child’s doctor and inform him about the child’s condition. Make sure that you also inform the doctor if the child is feeling uncomfortable because of the fever as the doctor would then inform you about the right acetaminophen or ibuprofen dosage. It’s best to avoid aspirin when dealing with child fever as there is a minor chance that it can cause Reye’s syndrome which is a fatal illness even though it is very rare.

What Causes Stomach Flu in Kids?

Since viral gastroenteritis or the stomach flu is highly contagious, it can get transferred to your baby from anyone or anything that contains the virus. He might get it by sharing any utensil with someone suffering from the virus or by eating anything that has been contaminated by it or by drinking water that has parasites or bacteria. There is also a chance that a baby picks up the virus through a fecal matter contaminated by the virus by simply touching it and then putting the hands in the mouth. 

How to Prevent Stomach Flu in Kids

You should get your child three rotavirus vaccines to prevent rotavirus (capable of causing fever, diarrhea and vomiting) with the first dose when the baby is two months old, the second one when the baby is four months old and the third one when the baby is six months old.

In order to ensure that your baby doesn’t catch the virus, you should make sure that you wash your hands before and after changing the diaper and when you make the food. You should also ask the same from your family members while you should do the same with your baby too.

Here is a video to emphasize washing hands for preventing stomach flu in kids:

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