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Gastroenteritis

    • What is Gastroenteritis?

      Gastroenteritis

      Gastroenteritis, commonly known as the stomach flu, is an infection of your child’s stomach and intestines. The most common cause of gastroenteritis is a viral infection caused by viruses such as norovirus and rotavirus.

      If your child has gastroenteritis, they may display the following symptoms:

      • Nausea
      • Vomiting
      • Diarrhoea
      • Stomach pain
      • Fever

      Nausea and vomitting usually occurs in the first 48 hours of illness and usually before the diarrhoea begins. The diarrhoea can last for 7 – 10 days. Due to increased fluid losses through vomitting and diarrhoea, your child may be dehydrated. They may become very thirsty, have a dry mouth, or pass less urine.

    • How can I manage my child at home?

      Ensure that your child takes small and frequent amounts of fluids (such as water, breast milk, formula, oral rehydration solutions or diluted clear juices) to keep up with fluid losses.

      You can give your child probiotics. Certain over the counter medications that stop vomitting or diarrhoea may not be safe in young children. Bring your child to a doctor if they are less than 6 months or are not able to keep in fluids.

      If your child has diarrhoea beyond 1 week, exclude milk and all dairy products for about 2 weeks. This is because some children become briefly intolerant to milk after a prolonged bout of gastroenteritis. Alternatives which can be used to substitute milk include soy milk or formula or certain lactose-free formulas.

    • When should I bring my child to a doctor?

      You should bring your child to a doctor if your child is less than 6 months old and displays any of the following symptoms:

      • Continuous vomitting and inability to keep down any fluids
      • Green vomit
      • Blood in vomit or stools
      • Large amounts of watery diarrhoea more than 8 – 10 times a day
      • Drowsiness or increased lethargy
      • Severe or prolonged episodes of abdominal pain
      • Signs of dehydration such as poor urine output, dry lips or tongue, sunken eyes
      • Diarrhoea beyond 2 weeks
    • How can I prevent getting gastroenteritis?

      Gastroenteritis is contagious. As there are many strains of viruses which cause gastroenteritis, it is possible to contract it more than once. Your child can get gastroenteritis if they have physical contact with someone who has gastroenteritis, or touch objects that are contaminated, such as utensils and toys. Younger children are vulnerable to getting gastroenteritis as they tend to put their fingers in their mouths after touching common objects.

      Teach your child and maintain good hygiene practices such as:

      • regular handwashing
      • not sharing cups or utensils

      The rotavirus vaccine can be given to infants at 3 – 8 months and can help prevent severe cases of rotavirus gastroenteritis.

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