It’s one of the feared infections of childhood- the stomach bug, or “gastroenteritis”. Vomiting, diarrhea, and generally poor feeling kiddos, and desperate parents who are at a loss of what to do for them.
My 3 and a half year old is in her first winter of preschool, so we’ve been treated to all the currently cycling bugs, and of course, the day before we were leaving for Disneyland, she woke up with nonstop vomiting shortly followed by diarrhea.
Luckily, for most kids (and parents), these sorts of infections only last about 24-48 hours, although sometimes it may feel like an eternity.
We get a lot of calls from parents with concerns when their children are suffering from these symptoms, and here are some things we look for that can help determine if they need more urgent evaluation.
- Is your child still making wet diapers/urinating normally?
- For little ones, are they still making tears when they cry? Are there bubbles of moisture under the tongue?
- Does the skin “tent” up when you pinch it?
- If you push down on the skin, does the color come back immediately or does it take more than a few seconds?
- Does the soft spot feel flat, or is it sunken in?
These can all be signs of dehydration, which is the most dangerous concern with the stomach bug, particularly in the littlest ones who depend on having a good balance of fluid in their bodies and are much more susceptible to having this interrupted.
The most common advice you will hear will be to use Pedialyte to rehydrate your child- this is preferable over water because when you vomit, you’re not only losing fluid, you’re also losing salts, which are a very important part of bodily functions.
Another point is don’t worry if your child doesn’t want to eat, fluids only for a few days won’t cause any serious problems and can be helpful in letting the stomach and intestines heal.
The “BRAT” diet is something that has always been recommended, and even though there isn’t any solid evidence for it, it just makes sense that bananas, rice, applesauce and toast can be gentle on the stomach and help to ease back into eating normally.
So just hang in there mommas! Trudge through that vomit and diarrhea and keep your head up! And don’t be afraid to call your doctor with questions!