Gastroenteritis

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.

 

Medical treatment:

–        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

 

Think Prevention:

–        Breastfeeding is preventative.

–        Use proper hand washing techniques at all times.

–        Clean bottles and pacifiers well.

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