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Spotting the stomach bug

The first signs of gastroenteritis are accompanied by vomiting and diarrhoea, and dehydration. Here are a few tips to spot the bug and deal with it. 

Dr Sonali Gautam & Dr Jesal Sheth

Toddlers are notoriously known for being fussy eaters and often refuse to eat food that their parents make for them. They often find a way to nibble on certain food items that could be raw, unclean, and undercooked. Sometimes the gastrointestinal tract of a young child is not fully developed to resist certain bacteria present in food. It is easy for them to develop the stomach bug known as viral gastroenteritis, or fall prey to food poisoning. This can occur from eating or drinking contaminated food or water and could go on for a few days.

Parents should be aware that your “I’m going to put everything I see in my mouth” child may catch the bug from time to time. Parents of toddlers and young kids need to pay close attention, to see if they are at any signs of discomfort or pain. The first signs of gastroenteritis are accompanied by vomiting and diarrhoea, and signs of dehydration may further lead to you being concerned. Here are a few tips to spot the bug and deal with it. 

  • Stomach aches and cramps

  • Muscle stiffness and aches

  • If your child is not passing urine at regular intervals

  • Lack of saliva presence leading to dry mouth

  • Fever of 102F and above

  • Low energy levels and fatigue

  • Drop-in mood and crankiness

  • The presence of blood or pus in stool and dark stool. Such a situation is a red flag and a doctor’s consultation is a must!

Preventive measure:

  • Maintain good hygiene

  • Make sure you are feeding your toddler cooked food

  • Keep the floors clean

  • Toys that are going in the mouth of the toddler and then back to the floor must be cleaned each day

  • Avoid playing in the sand

Treatment options:

Fluids: As the body loses a lot of its fluids due to vomiting and diarrhoea, the first line of treatment at home is to ensure a sufficient amount of fluids are given to the child. Dehydration is a big cause of concern ad could lead to further problems. In aid to water, it is also important to make sure electrolytes are administered to help regain fluid levels

Food: Avoid giving your child dairy products like Milk, Curds etc. as these can be problematic and worsen their condition. Once your child starts to feel better, slowly begin introducing food. However, keep it bland. Small portions of rice, bread toast and banana’s will help. Light chicken or vegetable soup also helps bind the stomach. Avoid any types of spicy, fried or fatty foods that are rich in acids

Medication: Avoid over-the-counter medicines. Consult your family doctor or a Gastroenterologist in time. Antibiotics do not help fight viruses and seeking medical aid in the right manner will help fast track and treat the infection. Also, consult your doctor on the best medication for your child to help treat fevers as certain medications can be harmful to the young ones. 

(Dr Gautam is Consultant Gastroenterologist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, & Dr Sheth is Consultant Neonatologist & Pediatric Intensivist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund)
(Image courtesy Pixabay)

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