Stomach Flu (Gastroenteritis) in children.
Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by several different viruses. It is usually associated with vomiting and diarrhea.
The vomiting may be followed by watery loose stools and abdominal cramps and sometimes there is the presence of fever. The vomiting is usually within a day, if diarrhea is present it might continue for several days.
The viral infection is usually mild and does not last longer than one week. Your child should get better with lots of rest, liquids, and appropriate food. However, your child’s illness may be serious if he or she becomes dehydrated. Dehydration can be very serious in very young children.
Causes of gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is mostly caused by viruses but can also be caused by bacteria. There are many ways gastroenteritis can be spread:
• Contact with someone who has the virus
• Contaminated food or water
• Unwashed hands after going to the bathroom or changing a child’s diaper
The most common cause of gastroenteritis is a virus. The main types are rotavirus and norovirus and adenovirus.
Rotavirus is the world’s most common cause of diarrhea in infants and young children. Norovirus is the most common cause of serious gastroenteritis and also foodborne disease outbreaks. Adenovirus causes mild vomiting 1 to 2 days after diarrhea starts. Diarrhea can last 1 to 2 weeks.
Bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella can also trigger the stomach flu. Salmonella and campylobacter bacteria are the most common bacterial causes of gastroenteritis.
Symptoms of Stomach Flu
The Major symptom associated with gastroenteritis is vomiting and diarrhea. Your child may have cycles of vomiting and diarrhea for about 24 hours. Other symptom includes:
• diarrhea (usually watery loose stool)
• stomach pain and cramps
• fever (usually mild)
• poor appetite
• headache pain
• muscle aches
• stiff joints
Treatment of Gastroenteritis
1) Give ORS if there is severe vomiting to prevent Dehydration in the child
2) If caused by bacteria antibiotic is prescribed by a doctor for the child.
3) Over-the-counter pain relief drugs might be recommended to relieve children of pain, babies over the age of 6 months pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
4) Usually the only treatment needed for gastroenteritis is getting bed rest and drinking an adequate amount of fluids.
Home remedies for the stomach flu
Several home remedies can help make your baby or child (and you!) more comfortable while dealing with the stomach flu.
Home Remedies for Gastroenteritis in children
• Let the stomach settle. Avoid feeding your baby or child solid food for a few hours.
• If your baby is throwing up, wait for 15 to 20 minutes before giving them any liquids.
• Try nursing your baby if they want to feed. Drinking milk may help hydrate your baby; it’s OK if they throw up some or all of it right after.
• Try using a syringe to give babies small amounts of liquids if they don’t accept bottle feeding.
• Give toddlers and older kids small sips of water. You can also give oral rehydration solutions for babies and small children
• Try giving your child light, bland foods that will be easy on the stomach. Try crackers, bananas, toast, or rice if they can tolerate it.
• Make sure your child gets plenty of rest.
Prevention of Gastroenteritis
• Children should follow the standard vaccination schedule and get the rotavirus vaccination, but not all children can receive this oral vaccination, so please check with your doctor before doing so.
• Practice good hand washing
• Be careful with food, stomach flu from contaminated food or water, or pass it on to someone else.
• Clean kitchen surfaces with a disinfectant (cleaner that kills germs), especially when working with raw meat or eggs.
• Keep raw meat, eggs, and poultry away from foods that are eaten raw.
• Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, eggs, and shellfish.
• Consume only pasteurized dairy products and apple juice. Pasteurization is a heating process that kills germs.
• Rinse fruits and vegetables before eating.
• Stop making food for others when you’re sick and for two days after symptoms are gone.
• Clean sick areas
• Clean anything that you may have touched while you were sick with stomach flu.
• Wash laundry with hot water and dry with high heat. Be sure to use a disinfectant to clean.