Gastroenteritis in Children: Causes & Treatment

4 min read

Written by Bindu Raichura

Bindu Raichura

Gastroenteritis in children is a common digestive disease. Almost every child might contract this issue at some point in time during childhood. Gastroenteritis in kids can quickly spread from one child to the other in their school or child care center. So, how can you prevent your kid from this disease, and how can you cure your kid if they have gastroenteritis? The article encapsulates the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of Gastroenteritis.

gastroentritis in children

What is Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis, which is also known as Stomach Flu, is a common digestive disease. The illness results in poor appetite and if diarrhea continues then it can cause dehydration which can be fatal if not treated on time.

Stomach viruses in children, such as Rotavirus, Norovirus, Adenovirus, Astrovirus, etc, cause gastroenteritis in children. It can also be caused by bacteria present in food and parasites in contaminated water and surfaces or from chemical toxins.

What are the Symptoms of Gastroenteritis?

The common gastroenteritis symptoms in children comprise of:

  • Digestive Tract Inflammation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Occasional Fever
  • Abdominal Cramps

How Long Does Gastroenteritis Last in a Child?

If your child catches any gastroenteritis causing virus or bacteria then in general he/she will suffer from its symptoms for 2 to 3 days only. But even in this small period loose motion, vomiting, and fever are enough to make your kid very sick and weak. And even if s/he gets over most of the symptoms of gastroenteritis yet they can suffer from occasional loose motions for about a week or more after being infected by the virus.

How Would a Child with Gastroenteritis Typically be Treated?

 General minor gastroenteritis in children can be treated easily at home by you. Stomach flu-affected kids will suffer from dehydration if you do not look after the amount of water and fluids they are taking. Here are some tips for you:

  • Constant Hydration:

Insist your kid to take water frequently. You can add some salt and sugar to it to make a glucose solution for them. It is also advisable to buy any Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) and give it to your kid. You can make fruit juice at home to ensure they are taking enough vitamins and minerals. If the child faces difficulty in chewing then you can make a paste of the food. Mixed khichdi with rice and lentils and vegetables like carrot, beans, and peas will be healthy and tasty this time. Avoid packaged soft drinks or fruit juices as they contain too much sugar.

  • Divide the Meals Proportionately:

Your kid may suffer from vomiting and lack of appetite and cannot eat heavily at one time. Thus you will have to divide the meal proportion into small quantities and feed them every 2/3 hours.

  • Go Back to the Normal Diet Chart:

Once your child’s diarrhea and vomiting start decreasing, then you can resume back to his/her normal diet gradually. Then you can give your kid carbohydrate-rich bread, potatoes, and rice.  Steamed meat and fish can also be cooked for them with very little oil and spices. Remember to avoid fats and too much protein as they are tough to digest.

  • Consult a Doctor:

You should not give your child any unprescribed medicine. They can hamper your kid’s natural immunity against these viruses and bacteria. Give medicine only when it is extremely needed after taking the doctor’s help.

  • Other Factors that Help:

Be with your kid all the time. Insist they take rest. Watch movies or cartoons with them so that they do not feel bored and sick. Avoid the school until s/he is fit so that they do not end up infecting other kids at school.

Following the above steps, you can cure the general stomach flu in children or gastroenteritis in kids. But if your child is having constant diarrhea and is not even drinking fluids then you should call for a doctor.

stomach viruses in children

When Should I Take My Child to the Hospital for Stomach Flu?

A growing up child of 3 and more can overcome children’s stomach flu with home remedies and their own immune system. However, you need to seek the doctor’s help if your child shows any of these signs:

  • Bile (a greenish fluid) or blood in the vomit
  • Stools containing pus or blood or if it smells oddly foul
  • Swollen abdomen and constant abdomen pain
  • If the skin color and eye turns yellow
  • If your kid has a poor immune system already

Also if your kid is having difficulty in swallowing or is vomiting after taking the prescribed medicines then talk to the doctor again. You can mix the medicine with milk or juice or water if your doctor directs you to do so.

How to Prevent the Child from Gastroenteritis?

You can avoid gastroenteritis in children by practicing basic hygiene at home and in public places. Your kid will then copy you and learn to wash hands before having food or playing outside. They will thus keep themselves clean and away from harmful viruses. You can also give your kid the Rotavirus Vaccine to prevent gastroenteritis since this stomach virus in children mainly causes gastroenteritis.

Bindu Raichura,

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