GASTROENTERITIS is such a huge term! Wonder why all medical terms are so scary!
Whenever your child falls sick, it gives you a headache. And gastroenteritis in children is enough to give you goose bumps.
Gastroenteritis in children is not as scary as it sounds. Just a few steps and you can cure it easily.
But, first understand what it is.
What is Gastroenteritis?
It is the infection of the lining of the digestive tract, caused by rotavirus. Other viruses like adenovirus and Norwalk virus can also cause the disease. Thus, your child can get over one bout of gastroenteritis in his lifetime.
Bacteria can also cause the illness but are less common.
What causes Gastroenteritis in Children?
Your child gets ill by ingesting contaminated food or water or coming in contact with infected faecal matter and then putting his hands in the mouth without washing.
Gastroenteritis in children presents itself as:
- Diarrhoea or loose motions
- Blood in stool (mostly in bacterial infection)
- Fever with chills
- Abdominal pain
4 Steps to deal with gastroenteritis in children
#1 Don’t give any anti-diarrhoeal medicine or aspirin to the child; it will worsen the case.
Only give the over-the-counter oral electrolyte solution or fresh lemonade prepared at home. Key points to remember:
- Give small amounts of fluid rather than a single large amount. 1 tsp every 1-2 minutes is sufficient.
- Keep giving the solution even if your child is vomiting.
#2 Call your paediatrician immediately
In cases of severe vomiting and diarrhoea, call your paediatrician immediately. He may prescribe a medicine to control the same.
If your child shows signs of severe dehydration like sunken eyes, decreased urine output, extreme thirst, crying without tears and wrinkled skin, he may be hospitalised for a day or two.
#3 Take care of the child’s diet
Most mothers stop breastfeeding or giving formula milk to the child when he has gastroenteritis. But, in reality, you should:
- Continue to breastfeed on demand
- Give formula feeds as per his needs
- If your child can take solids, offer him simple foods like porridge, toast, rice, and yoghurt.
Only if your child cannot digest formula milk or breast milk or any solid food, it’s advisable to give him the electrolyte solution throughout the day and resume his normal diet once he can keep this electrolyte solution without vomiting.
#4 Avoid giving your child any food with high sugar content. Resume his daily diet slowly once he begins to recover from the bout of gastroenteritis.
You can prevent gastroenteritis in children
To prevent the illness:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after every diaper change, bathroom visit and before preparing or eating food. The same goes for the other family members and day care staff. It’s advised to wash your baby’s hands often throughout the day. Encourage your child to wash his hands after using the washroom and playing.
- Keep all food items and drinking water in a clean place and covered with a lid.
- Get your baby 3 doses of the rotavirus vaccine: at 2, 4, and 6 months. Despite the vaccine, he may still get the illness due to other viruses or bacteria, but it won’t be severe.
Here’s the recommended vaccination schedule for the Indian kids:
|Age of the child||Vaccines|
|At birth||BCG, Hepatitis B, OPV|
|6 weeks||DPT, OPV, Hepatitis B 2, Hib , PCV|
|10 weeks||DPT 2, OPV, Hib 2, Rotavirus 1, PCV 2|
|14 weeks||DPT 3, OPV, Hib 3, Rotavirus 2, PCV 3|
|6 months||OPV, Hepatitis B 3, Rotavirus 3|
|9 months||OPV, MMR|
|12 months||Hepatitis A|
|15 months||MMR 2, PCV booster, Varicella|
|16-18 months||DPT booster, Hib booster|
|18 months||Hepatitis A 2|
|4- 6 years||DPT booster 2, Varicella 2|
OPV – Oral Polio Vaccine
DPT- Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus
HPV- Human Papillomavirus
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