If your child suddenly has an attack of diarrhea and vomiting, and they complain of a stomachache is usually points to an Gastroenteritis infection.

Gastro infections are caused by a virus or bacteria and your child should pass it in about 2-5 days without medication. The first few days seem to be the worst, but you can take certain steps to help your child get through it.

Gastroenteritis is a common illness and has definitely been doing the rounds more recently this summer. The symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps and inflammation. Your child could also have  diarrhea, vomiting, a mild fever of about 37.77C, chills, headache and muscle aches and a feeling of tiredness.

Gastroenteritis is caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites that have lead to a stomach infection.

The germs are easily spread and viruses are the most common cause of children’s gastro. The Rotavirus vaccine can assist in prevention.

How do kids pick up the gastro:

  • Touching something contaminated and then touch their mouth or food.

  • Sharing drinks or food with someone who is sick.

  • Someone is infected in the home, even if that person isn’t showing symptoms.

What can you do as a parent:

  • Babies can continue to breastfeed or take formula as long as they are not throwing up repeatedly. If you’re the parent of a young baby, talk with your doctor about breastfeeding or formula to keep your baby hydrated.
  • Give lots of fluid. The biggest danger from gastroenteritis is dehydration. Water might not be enough. It won’t replace the important electrolytes like salt, sugars, and minerals your child’s body loses when it’s dehydrated. Electrolyte solutions or oral rehydration solutions can sometimes be better than water. You can buy them at your local pharmacy and can even be bottle-fed to infants.

  • Milk and drinks that have a lot of acid – orange juice or caffeine – Coca cola can make stomach problems worse. Rather give clear fluids.

  • Steer clear of over the counter medications. The body fights infection by vomiting and diarrhea. Not only will most medications not help, they may even make it worse. Just make sure your child stays hydrated and try not to interfere with the natural process.

  • Anti diarrhea and vomiting meds simply prolong the process, Ibuprofen can upset your child’s stomach even more, unless your child has a fever. Acetaminophen can cause liver problems. Antibiotics don’t work against viruses.

  • When your child can drink liquid and keep it down, you can slowly start to Introduce food.  Keep to bland foods like bananas, bread, rice, applesauce, and toast first. Chicken noodle soup and crackers are also good choices. Once you know those are going down well, you can try lean meat and cooked vegetables.

  • Don’t give your sick child foods that are fried, spicy, fatty, or have a lot of acid. They can make stomach problems worse.

What if it’s food poisoning?

You can generally tell if your child has food poisoning over gastroenteritis if they develop symptoms within a few hours of eating. Can you think of a particular food that could have caused their symptoms such as food left outside, meat not properly cooked through, food with a bad odor.

Is anyone else sick who ate the same food and was it prepared at a store or restaurant?

Both gastroenteritis and food poisoning have similar symptoms, but the main treatment for both is to keep your baby hydrated.

When should you take your baby to the ER?

If you notice blood in your baby’s urine, feces, or vomit, or the diarrhea lasts more than three days, take your baby to the ER.

If there are signs of dehydration such as extreme thirst, loss of consciousness, or confusion, take your baby to the ER.

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