Tummy bugs are unpleasant at the best of times and can be extremely worrisome for parents or young children.
Gastroenteritis, also known as ‘gastro’ is a common illness causing vomiting and diarrhoea. It is spread very easily through contact with infected persons, contaminated food or water.
What is gastro?
Gastroenteritis is a condition which affects the gut and intestines and can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Toxins produced by bacteria
While it can be caused by a number of different germs viruses and bacteria are usually to blame.
As you may be all too familiar with, the symptoms of gastroenteritis are not pleasant and can include:
- Vomiting (lasting 24 – 48 hours)
- Diarrhoea (can last up 10 days)
- Stomach cramps/pains
- Lessened appetite
What to do:
Typically, gastro can be treated at home but is more severe for young babies and children due to fluid loss. Keeping a close eye on their symptoms and progression through the illness is highly important.
Mild gastro may be unpleasant but there are a number of measures you can take at home to help ease discomfort:
Due to the risk of dehydrating it is important to keep children drinking plenty of fluids to replace those lost during vomiting and diarrhoea. Frequently sipping on water can be easier for young children than drinking large amounts at once. Ensure there is a constant supply of water available.
Rehydration fluids available at pharmacies are also a good idea to help replace important electrolytes. If they are not willing to drink water, well diluted fruit juice is an option but milk and other dairy products should be avoided as stomach viruses can cause temporary lactose intolerance.
- Foods to eat
Babies who are breastfed should continue to drink normal amounts of milk even if it appears they are vomiting up their feeds. Babies eating solids should be given dry, starchy foods such as: rice cereal, dry biscuits and potatoes.
Older children should eat when they are hungry (but should not go without food for more than 24 hours) and offered plain foods such as: toast, rice, potato and banana.
Like any illness one of the best ways to help the body to recover is to allow it to rest.
When to see a doctor:
- If your child is experiencing 8 – 10 watery diarrhoea motions per day
- If diarrhoea continues for more than 10 days
- If they are frequently vomiting and unable to keep any fluids down
- If you’re concerned your child is dehydrated
- If there is blood in their stool
- If they are experiencing bad stomach pains
- If the patient is a baby under 6 months of age
- If their vomit is green