We all know the symptoms – diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain. Gastroenteritis continues to affect children and adults at different times in their lives. Learn about what is it and how we can help our children.
What is it?
– Can cause diarrhoea (frequent, watery stools) and sometimes vomiting.
– Usually caused by a virus, most commonly the rotavirus.
– Most children get better without medicine in a few days but soft stools may persist for a week or more.
– It is spread mostly by droplet infection (like the cold) or putting dirty hands, toys, bottles or other objects around the mouth.
Signs and Symptoms:
– Loose frequent stools and sometimes vomiting
– Cramping abdominal pain. Occasionally fever.
What to do:
– Babies: Continue breastfeeding, replacing each stool with an extra feed, or if formula fed, give smaller amounts, slowly
– Child: Older child may continue regular diet but increase fluids.
– Replace stool lost with an equal volume of fluids – juice, coconut water. If diarrhoea excessive, use oral rehydration fluids to replace salts lost in diarrhoea.
– Drinks can be put in the freezer to make them slushy and then sip or eat with a spoon.
– If there is vomiting, give fluids slowly, a few tsps at a time every 10 mins. If that is tolerated, increase fluids. Light diet such as crackers or light soups, crix, jam, applesauce, banana, watermelon.
Stay away from:
– Milk drinks as these may not be well digested at this time.
– Fatty foods and high sugar drinks as these may make the diarrhoea worse.
– Antidiarrhoeals or antiemetics are not used as the virus needs to work itself out of the body
– Antibiotics are not usually used.
Be concerned if:
– Your child is younger than 6 mths old or has a high fever.
– Has severe or prolonged diarrhoea, or has diarrhoea that contains blood or mucous
– Vomits repeatedly and refuses to drink fluids.
– Is urinating less than usual or has no tears when crying – Signs of dehydration
– Breastfeeding is preventative.
– Use proper hand washing techniques at all times.
– Clean bottles and pacifiers well.