Unfortunately, it’s the time of year where stomach bugs are rife. I was recently in the hospital twice in the space of two days, as my little one had a severe case of gastroenteritis. While I was there, I had many in depth conversations with paediatricians, nurses and the matron, who gave me many materials and ideas about the prevention and management of gastroenteritis, and how to recognise the signs of dehydration.
- feeling sick
- sudden, watery diarrhoea,
- mild fever
- vomiting, which can be projectile
- abdominal craps
- poor appetite
When to seek medical advice for your child
- has blood in their poo, or green vomit
- has been vomiting for three days or more
- has had diarrhoea for more than a week
- has a serious underlying condition and also has D&V
- has symptoms of dehydration –
- sunken eyes
- cold extremities
- mouth and lips appear dry
- seems to be getting worse, will not take fluids or vomits immediately after drinking
- are floppy, unresponsive or lethargic
- skin appears to be more baggy than usual
- much higher pulse rate than usual
- they have had more than 8 loose nappies per day
- they do not have more than 2 wet nappies per day
- no tears when crying
- sunken fontanelle in babies
Preventing the spread
- Children should not attend any kind of childcare or school while they have vomiting or diarrhoea, and should not return until at least 48 hours have passed since the last episode of vomiting or diarrhoea.
- Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of gastroenteritis. This includes the obvious times, like after using the toilet, changing nappies, or touching food. Do not rely on alcohol hand gels.
- Towels and other personal items should not be shared between children or other members of the family while someone is suffering with gastroenteritis.
- Children should not use a swimming pool for 14 days after their last episode of diarrhoea.
- Disinfect any surfaces and items that could be contaminated.