Mother comforting sick daughter

Is this the Stomach Flu?

Have you ever had the “stomach flu?” What you probably had was gastroenteritis – not a type of flu at all. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the intestines caused by a virus, bacteria or parasites. Viral gastroenteritis is the second most common illness in the U.S. The cause is often a norovirus infection. It spreads through contaminated food or water, and contact with an infected person. The best prevention is frequent hand washing with warm soapy water, some viruses like norovirus can even survive hand sanitizer!

Symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. Most people recover with no treatment.

Increased Risk for Dehydration

The most common problem with gastroenteritis is dehydration. This happens if you do not drink enough fluids to replace what you lose through vomiting and or diarrhea. Young children are especially susceptible to dehydration because they are less efficient at conserving water than older children and adults. In addition, small body size means that it takes less fluid loss to lead to dehydration.  Please click on the following link for further information on how to prevent dehydration and care for a child ill with gastroenteritis: http://www.pediatricassociatesonline.com/home-care/ .

How long should your child be vomiting?

Remember that vomiting is a protection reaction of your child’s body to clear infection. Once a virus that causes gastroenteritis takes hold of a child, vomiting starts. Children tend to vomit more than adults. Part may be an easy gag reflex. With most viruses that cause the “stomach flu,” as the infection moves through the stomach and intestines, vomiting stops after about 24 hours. But not always. If you advance liquids too quickly or children eat more solids than they are ready for, even after the first meal 1 to 2 days into eating again, they may have a vomit encore. If you have one of those, start back where you started (sips of clear liquids) and go very slow advancing their diet. If vomiting is accelerating at 24 hours, it is time to check in with your child’s doctor.

When does your child need to see the doctor?

If your child is too sick to drink or listless, or shows signs of progressive dehydration such as dry mouth, fewer tears, or urinates less frequently, seek urgent medical attention. Contact your pediatrician immediately. For more information see https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Surviving-the-Stomach-Bug-Truths-Tips-for-Parents-.aspx.