Stomach Flu in Babies (gastroenteritis)


What is stomach flu?

Stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, is an inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. Regardless of the name, it’s not caused by the influenza infection. The most common offender is one of a number of other infections, consisting of rotavirus, adenovirus, calicivirus, and astrovirus.

But gastroenteritis can also be caused by a possibly more serious bacterial infection, such as Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus, Campylobacter, or E. coli. Still other cases are caused by parasites such as giardia.

If your baby has gastroenteritis, she may have diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, chills, and achiness. Her symptoms might be mild or severe, and they might last for just a few hours or for days, depending on the offender.

How did my baby get stomach flu?

Viral gastroenteritis is very contagious. Your baby may have eaten something contaminated with the virus or shared a cup or utensils with someone who has the infection. (It’s possible to have the infection without showing symptoms.)

If bacteria or a parasite is to blame, your child might have ingested polluted food or drinking water.

Another method your baby might have gotten the disease is by coming in contact with infected feces then putting her hands in her mouth. This sounds gross, however it occurs a lot, particularly in day care situations. Remember that germs are tiny, so even when a child’s hands don’t look dirty, they might be covered with bacteria.

stomach flu in an infant

How common is stomach flu in babies?

Viral gastroenteritis is the second most common disease in the United States after upper breathing infections such as colds. Most infants will come down with the stomach flu at least two times a year, regularly if they’re in daycare. Kids frequently delight in an increase in their immunity after they turn 3 years of ages and may not contract it as frequently.

When should I call my child’s doctor?

Give the doctor a call as quickly as you suspect that your baby has gastroenteritis. Also call if your baby has been vomiting for more than two days or has blood in her stool, or you think she’s exceedingly fussy.

Use your doctor’s standards for telephoning in the event of a fever. (Common ideas are fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit if your baby’s less than 3 months old; a fever of 101 degrees F if she’s between 3 and 6 months old; and a fever of 103 degrees F or higher if she’s 6 months or older.).

Also call your doctor if your baby reveals any of the classic signs of dehydration:.

  • reduced urination (more than six hours without a wet diaper).
  • excessive drowsiness or fussiness.
  • a sunken soft spot.
  • wrinkled skin.
  • sunken eyes.
  • extreme thirst.
  • dry lips.
  • crying without tears.
  • cool, tarnished hands and feet.

If your baby appears dehydrated and no doctor is offered, take her to the emergency room.

If your baby is in risk of dehydration, the doctor might suggest IV rehydration. He might want to admit her to the health center or just keep her there for a few hours.

If a blood or stool test exposes that your child has a parasitic or bacterial infection, she might likewise be provided a course of antibiotics. Do not be alarmed. Probabilities are, she’ll be launched and back to her healthy self within a few days.

Treating stomach flu in babies under 6 months and older

First, you’ll wish to call your baby’s doctor and tell her what’s going on, especially if your child is under 6 months.

If your baby has a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Medication will not be valuable for a case of viral gastroenteritis, though, which like all viral infections simply has to run its course. Do not give your child anti-diarrhea medication– it’ll simply extend her illness and can have potentially serious side effects.

If your child has a fever and appears uncomfortable, ask your doctor about offering her the proper dose of baby acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Never ever give your child aspirin, which is related to Reye’s syndrome, an unusual but possibly fatal illness.

Dehydration is a concern whenever a child is losing fluid, whether it’s through vomiting, diarrhea, or a fever.

Depending on how much she’s vomiting and whether she’s able to keep down any liquids, the doctor may recommend giving her an over-the-counter oral electrolyte solution, such as Pedialyte, Rehydralyte, or Enfalyte. These options help replace lost fluids, minerals, and salts. The doctor can let you understand how much your baby should be consuming based on her age and weight.

If your child isn’t able to keep down formula or breast milk, the doctor might advise you to give her small sips of the electrolyte option throughout the day, till she’s able to keep that down, and after that slowly return to her typical diet.

While you’re attempting to keep your baby hydrated, stay away from high-sugar foods like juices, sodas, and Jell-O, which can make stomach flu symptoms worse. (Gastroenteritis can temporarily harm the lining of the small intestine, making it tough to absorb these sweet foods.).

If your baby is eating solids and has a fairly mild case of gastroenteritis– say, mild diarrhea however no vomiting– she can continue to eat modest amounts throughout the course of her disease and probably will not need oral electrolyte solution.

Stomach flu treatment for breastfed babies

Breastfeeding or formula feeding must be enough to keep her hydrated.

When can my baby return to eating solids?

Talk with the doctor and follow your baby’s cues. She may have the ability to continue eating practically usually, or it may be much better to keep her off solid foods for a few days.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children with gastroenteritis resume a typical diet (staying away from fatty foods) as quickly as possible. That consists of such staples as complex carbs (whole-grain breads and cereals), lean meats, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables.

Bear in mind that this menu is various from the diet physicians used to prescribe. “The BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) was as soon as extremely frequently advocated, however we not advise it because it does not have protein and other vital nutrients,” states William John Cochran, associate professor of pediatrics at the Geisinger Clinic in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Studies show that reestablishing a conventional diet not long after acute symptoms ease can really shorten a child’s bout of gastroenteritis by half a day since it brings back nutrients to the system that are required to fight infection. On the other hand, if the bug eliminates your baby’s hunger and she misses out on a few days of excellent nutrition, don’t fret. As long as she stays hydrated, she’ll be great.

How can I help protect my baby versus gastroenteritis?

Wash your hands completely with soap and warm water after every diaper change and restroom go to and prior to preparing or eating food. The same opts for other relative and day care staff. It’s also a great idea to clean your baby’s hands often throughout the day.

What’s more, make sure to follow safe cooking and cooking practices.

To prevent your child from getting rotavirus (which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, especially in children and little ones), your baby should receive three dosages of the rotavirus vaccine: one at 2 months, another at 4 months, and the last at 6 months.


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