STOMACH FLU IN CHILDREN EXPLAINED

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child-clinic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting a stomach upset may be a common occurrence for most babies but when it comes to stomach flu, it’s a little more complex. When a baby has the stomach flu, he will tend to suffer from diarrhoea and vomiting which can last for a week or even longer. Stomach flu, also referred to as gastroenteritis, is an infection of the digestive system and it is not related to the common flu, which affects the respiratory system.

Getting a stomach upset may be a common occurrence for most babies but when it comes to stomach flu, it’s a little more complex. When a baby has the stomach flu, he will tend to suffer from diarrhoea and vomiting which can last for a week or even longer. Stomach flu, also referred to as gastroenteritis, is an infection of the digestive system and it is not related to the common flu, which affects the respiratory system.

Stomach flu is often caused by a virus the common one being the rotavirus. Certain bacteria such as the E. coli and salmonella can also cause it. Children under the age of five are especially susceptible to rotavirus hence the reason the rotavirus vaccine is administered to children, the first of which is given when the baby is three months old. Although children, even those that have been vaccinated can get sick from rotavirus more than once, those that are vaccinated are less likely to get sick from it and if they do, the symptoms are usually less severe compared to unvaccinated children.

When your child has stomach flu, the symptoms may set in a few days after being exposed to the bug. Apart from suffering from both diarrhoea and vomiting, your child may also have fever. You will also notice that his appetite will decrease and he may also show signs of being weak and irritable. Some children, especially older ones, may complain of stomach cramps and headaches.

Preventive measures to take

Stomach bugs tend to be contagious and since kids love to play together, there is no faster way to spread the virus than through play. This is why stomach bugs tend to spread easily in day care centres and schools, especially through infected toys as kids touch them and then put their fingers in their mouths.

So what can you do to stop the spread? The importance of proper hand washing using soap and warm water especially after using the washrooms cannot be overemphasised enough as this helps to prevent germs from being passed on. Clean your hands after diaper changes and potty trips as well as wash and disinfect toys used by your kids, especially if they are sharing them.

Of equal importance is the need to ensure your child gets a rotavirus vaccine as this reduces the intensity of the illness should he get a stomach flu.

Homemade treatment

One of the most adverse symptoms of the stomach flu is dehydration as a result of vomiting. It is important to keep your child hydrated because dehydration can be fatal. If your child is less than a year old, it is recommended that you give an oral rehydration solution made of a mixture of a teaspoon of sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and a cup of clean drinking water, or you can purchase an ORS pack from a nearby pharmacy.

Encourage your child to drink small, frequent amounts rather than a glassful at a time. However, should your child refuse to drink this mixture, it is advisable to give him small amounts of either formula or breast milk regularly.

Be sure to contact your doctor if you notice any blood in his stool or vomit, which is not common with stomach bugs. Also check in with your pediatrician if the symptoms don’t seem to subside and the illness lasts longer than two days with no signs of improvement.

 

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