Handling the Stomach Virus

in Children

Perhaps one of the most common illnesses your child will catch in their early school years are the hundreds of varieties of stomach viruses.  They normally come on very quickly and involve either diarrhea, vomiting or if your really unlucky both.  The only good thing about a stomach virus is that they are normally short lived, lasting around 24 hours.  Some of the common viruses will cause your child to run a fever as well, simply pouring salt on the wound of already feeling badly.  Another good thing, is that while stomach virus strains are highly contagious, airborne illnesses which incubate before a child is even symptomatic – adults don't normally pick them all up.  This is a good thing, especially because you will be the one responsible for cleaning sheets and nurturing your children as they make it through this disgusting illness. 

If your child shows the symptoms of a stomach virus, there really is no need to run them to the pediatrician right away.  Firstly, there is nothing that a doctor can provide them with to begin with that will help.  These viruses have to run their course and are not helped by antibiotics or medications.  Secondly, your child's immune system is already compromised and there is no use in exposing them to all the germs that are waiting for them behind the pediatrician's office door. 

Instead, try not to force your child to eat.  On the other hand, if they are losing a lot of fluids through vomiting or diarrhea – you should ensure that they take in fluids or else risk dehydration.  Popsicles, ginger ale, light sodas, and water are your best choice.  Many people try to offer juice to their children, which is laden with acids that can be hard on their stomach when they are sick.  Definitely stay away from any milk products, which can curdle in their stomach (especially with a fever) and are too meal like to digest.  If your child is up for chewing or sucking on ice cubes (flavor them if you like) that too will help them keep hydrated.  Remember, that your child should be trying to drink around 8 ounces per hour.  This may seem like a lot, but chances are they will excrete most of it through vomiting or diarrhea. 

After a day has passed, you should see marked improvement.  Some children bounce back with an eager appetite, while others feel sort of drippy and exhausted.  There is no harm in allowing them to stay home from school another day so that they can recover.  Often they lose a lot of electrolytes and may be sort of tired from lack of nutrition while they were sick.  If your child is ravenous, be sure to start slowly.  Offer broth, soups, salted crackers or something else that is substantial but not heavy.  You should probably try to stay away from milk for another day or so just to be safe.  Whatever you do, make sure that they don't eat or drink too much at once. 

If the virus seems to last and linger and comes with pain and intermittent fever, you should take your child to the pediatrician.  Certainly, they can pick up back-to-back viruses from school – but they also could have food poisoning, salmonella, or something worse like appendicitis. 

It can be very difficult to keep a stomach virus from spreading around your home.  Normally, they run through every child and sometimes, the adults.  If you just can't afford to get sick, try getting yourself some acidophilus tablets, increasing your Vitamin C and be sure to continuously wash your hands and common items in your home that every one touches.  Luckily, many of the stomach virus strains give you immunity once you have had it once, which is why parents don't always catch the same thing as their children.  You probably already had it as a child yourself.  If you do get sick – call for reinforcements.  With your luck, your children will get well before you and not give you the time you need to rest and get well yourself.  Stomach viruses are definitely part of childhood.  It is nearly impossible to avoid them completely.  However, with some careful care and attention your child will bounce back in no time.

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David Beart has 1 articles online

David Beart is the owner of http://www.professorshouse.com . This site covers a wide selection of topics including relationships, family, cooking and other household issues.

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Handling the Stomach Virus

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This article was published on 2010/12/11