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Remedy for Kids with Stomach Flu: February 23, 2011

It’s a stomach virus that can catch adults and kids off guard: gastroenteritis. “Classically vomiting and diarrhea. Not always together, you can have one or the other,” explains Dr. Angela D’Alessandro, a pediatrician on The Children’s Hospital medical staff. “Abdominal pain and cramping. Fever, headaches, typically from some mild hydration.”

While these are the classic symptoms, parents need to be on guard for more serious problems. “Worrisome signs would be bloody diarrhea, increasing abdominal pain out of proportion to the child’s symptoms. A fever greater than 102. Or a fever over 101 for more than 3 says. If the child hasn’t taken anything by mouth for several hours, that would be concerning.”

That’s when a trip to the pediatrician is in order. Because kids’ bodies are so fragile, gastroenteritis can be a bit harder on them than it is on adults. “Certainly adults can get very sick with this but kids seem to have more aggressive disease and they also don’t have as much reserve. They don’t have as much ability to help themselves so I do think they tend to get more sick.”

Dr. D’Alessandro recommends fluids so they don’t get dehydrated. “Water is fine, but we prefer an oral re-hydration solution with electrolytes. And the over-the-counter preparations are typically pedialite for infants and children, Gatorade, Powerade, those kinds of things are fine.

Then, slowly start incorporating foods. “If you are sick now with a stomach virus, it is best that you ingest more complex carbohydrates like wheat, breads, rice, potatoes, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, yogurts, so a little more substance.”

Keep in mind, gastroenteritis is extremely contagious so keep your hands washed and high traffic areas in your house clean and free from bacteria.