Everything you need to know about stomach bugs in children

Stomach bugs are one of the most common illnesses in children, especially in the rainy and winter seasons. Gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, is an infection of your child’s stomach and intestines. It often includes both diarrhoea and vomiting. Stomach bugs occur due to viral infection, mainly with norovirus, rotavirus, and adenovirus.

What causes stomach bugs in children?

A stomach bug can result when your child touches something that has germs on it — such as doorknobs, countertops or toys — and then touches her mouth. Or, stomach bugs can come from eating food contaminated with germs (bacteria, viruses, or parasites). Sometimes certain types of gastroenteritis are spread through food that has been infected with germs that made their way into the raw food while it was growing on farms or during storage or processing.

Common symptoms of stomach bugs

Kids with stomach bugs may also have nausea, stomach cramps, headaches, fevers, or body aches. Although it can be difficult for parents to see their child suffer through stomach pain along with bouts of diarrhoea or vomiting, gastroenteritis in children rarely leads to severe complications when treated promptly. Persistent motions and vomiting can also lead to dehydration. Common symptoms of dehydration are extreme thirst, dryness in the mouth and throat, dark coloured urine, dizziness, and sunken eyes.

Prevention tips for stomach bugs in children

Your best bet to prevent the stomach flu is to wash your hands often with soap and water. If that isn’t possible (like while camping), use a hand sanitiser containing alcohol. It’s also important to keep surfaces in your home clean and thoroughly wash all produce before eating them.

Treatment

Stomach pain and diarrhoea treatment can be easily done at home. First, feed your child clear liquids like broth and water until his vomiting and diarrhoea stop. Then start him on small sips of an electrolyte replacement solution such as Pedialyte or Infalyte every 15 minutes for 2 hours. Continue feeding your child small amounts of this electrolyte until he has two to three regular bowel movements in the next 24 hours. Continue to feed your child in this manner until he is no more vomiting, diarrhoea, or fever for at least 24 hours.

When can you not treat a stomach bug at home?

If your child is dehydrated, your doctor will send him to the hospital for intravenous fluids. You also need to take him to the hospital if he experiences specific symptoms. These include a dry mouth with no tears, the child’s fontanelle (soft spot on top of his head) feeling sunken or hard, no urine output for 6 to 12 hours, or only a minimal amount of pale-yellow urine over 6 to 12 hours.

Violent stomach flu in children is rare, though. The risk of stomach flu in children is higher for kids between 6 months and 3 years old, especially if they have other medical problems or are taking certain medications.

When should you seek medical help for a stomach bug in children? If your child seems dehydrated, has severe stomach cramps, vomits more than five times in an hour, or has blood in his stool, call the doctor right away.

Stomach bugs are common in children and are generally easily curable. However, for infants and newborns, these can lead to severe health conditions such as untreated dehydration, which could be fatal. If your child is suffering from stomach problems or showing symptoms of severe dehydration, don’t delay. Seek a second opinion from the best gastroenterologists in India and get the best possible cure for diarrhoea from the comfort of your home.

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