The A to Z on stomach flu
Posted by: Sharmila Rajah, 22-Oct-2010
What is it?
Stomach flu (also known as gastroenteritis) is an inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. The most common culprit is one of a number of viruses such as the rotavirus, adenovirus, calicivirus and astrovirus. And at other times, stomach flu is caused by more serious bacterial infection such as Salmonella, or E.coli.
Like Ayanna, if your toddler has had stomach flu, they may have developed a fever, some vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, chills and achiness. Symptoms may vary from mild to severe, and may last for just a few hours or for days.
It is believed that a toddler may come down with the stomach flu at least twice a year, more often if they are in daycare or in pre-school.
How does your toddler get it?
Viral gastroenteritis is indeed very contagious. Your toddler may have eaten food contaminated with the virus or shared a cup or utensils with someone who has the virus. If bacteria are the culprit, your child may have ingested contaminated food or drinking water.
Another common way of contracting the illness is by coming in contact with infected fecal matter and then putting their hands in the mouth. Germs are microscopic so even if a toddlerís hands may not look dirty they may be covered with bacteria.
How should you treat it?
If itís a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Medication wonít help for viral gastroenteritis though. Like all viral infections, it will have to run its course. Refrain from giving your child anti-diarrhea medication as it will only prolong the illness.
The appropriate dose of childrenís paracetamol can be given if your toddler has a fever and seems uncomfortable.
Dehydration is a concern Ė so be sure your toddler is hydrated. Refrain from high-sugar foods like juices. Drink plenty of water and milk (if thatís okay as some children may find it difficult to digest dairy products).
How to prevent it?
Teach your toddler to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after every bathroom visit and before touching/ eating their food.
Itís good to get your toddler washed up every time they return home from school or an outing.