Surviving Stomach Viruses & other GI Pathogens

Surviving Stomach Viruses  & other GI Pathogens

Dr. Rebecca Butler is Board Certified in Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is proud to be a resident of Lantana and the owner of Lantana Pediatrics.
For more information on Lantana Pediatrics, Dr. Butler and/or Melanie Bitzer, CPNP or to schedule an appointment with one of these providers, call the office at 940.455.7200.

So the kids are finally out of your house and back in the schoolhouse sharing all of their germs and spreading around illnesses. Our office is recognizing a continuing theme of stomach complaints from the summertime activities as well as a shift to coughs, colds, congestion and runny noses. Gastrointestinal complaints have remained quite abundant with the start of the school year, so let us focus on these nauseating bugs.

By the time a stomach virus or other acute GI infection has manifested in one child, the most important focus is hydrated that child and protecting the other family members from contracting the illness.

Hand washing and keeping things clean are your best defenses from getting ill with a stomach bug. Not surprisingly, this is particularly true after touching or carrying your child and when preparing food and eating.

Many viruses will survive on surfaces for days, and some viruses (i.e Norovirus) can even survive hand sanitizers and wipes. So while carrying around those little magic bottles of germ killer can be better than nothing, always try to wash with soap and water. I know, easier said than done. Every caregiver knows that when the vomit is flying, it is almost impossible to adequately contain all of the splatter, especially when it’s coming from more than one child. So simply commit to do your best.

Change the sheets and clean up areas of vomit and diarrhea immediately and wash yourself thoroughly with soap and water after carrying or supporting your child. Wash surfaces in the household as soon as possible after an event, use extra hot water for the laundry, and use high heat in the dryer. Consider using a dilute bleach solution to clean hard surfaces and even your children if necessary.

With a typical gastroenteritis, vomiting doesn’t usually exceed 24 hours. Vomiting is most often the first sign of a stomach bug in children, and children tend to vomit more often than adults. As the infection moves through the stomach and intestines, vomiting usually stops after about 24 hours. On occasion this phase may last longer. If you advance liquids too quickly or children eat more solids than they are ready for, even if the first meal is 1 to 2 days into eating again, they may begin vomiting again. If this happens you have to start back a ground zero with clear liquids and again advance slowly to a regular diet.

Children rarely need medication when recovering from gastroenteritis. Talk with your child’s pediatrician if you feel your child is vomiting excessively, longer than 24 hours or he/she is becoming dehydrated. Remember that vomiting and diarrhea are a protection reaction of your child’s body to clear infection. Do not give anti-diarrheal agents/medications to children as it can prolong the illness and increase the severity of the infection.

Diarrhea usually follows the vomiting and can last several days. Even so, our children’s resilience will long astonish us. Protect their skin from rashes and sores, keep them hydrated, avoid sugary foods and beverages, and consider cutting out all dairy until all issues have resolved for at least 5-7 days. Re-introduce dairy very slowly and monitor symptoms.

If your child has severe stomach pains, high fever, or blood or mucus in their stool you should see your pediatrician immediately.

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