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Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health flu-related visitor restrictions have been lifted. However, because babies, especially those who are ill or premature, are at higher risk of serious complications if they get the flu, visitation restrictions are still in place for all Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) until further notice. 

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Your Child’s Stomach Flu – When to Call the Doctor

Many of us have experienced the gut-retching symptoms of the stomach flu and know that it can leave us feeling weak and tired. For children, this illness can be even tougher to handle. So, it is important to understand the symptoms of the stomach flu and how to help our children. Here is what you should know about the stomach flu and how to treat it.

The Basics of Stomach Flu

Norovirus and other digestive system infections are often called the stomach flu. These conditions come with a variety of symptoms, but most often include vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Typically, the stomach flu affects children and adults for 24 hours.

The Symptoms of Stomach Flu

If your child experiences any of the following, be sure to call his or her physician:

  • Fever
  • Severe vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea (more than eight stools per day)
  • Dehydration, as shown by weakness, dry lips or infrequent urination
  • Blood in the stool or vomit
  • Abdominal pain in one spot
  • Yellowing of the skin/eyes
  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Round, swollen (distended) stomach

Some of these symptoms may indicate that your child is experiencing more than a stomach flu or has started suffering complications of the illness. If symptoms last more than 24 hours, call your physician to ensure your child receives the medical attention he or she needs.

What to Do

In many cases, you can allow your child to stay home and let the illness run its course. Here are some tips on how to help your child overcome the stomach flu:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, broth or Pedialyte to avoid dehydration.
  • Try to fed your child bland foods such as saltine crackers or toast—to avoid irritating the stomach.

After the symptoms have stopped, reintroduce your child to rich or spicy foods slowly as his or her stomach may still be sensitive.

Other Conditions: Dehydration and Malnutrition

While most digestive illnesses pass quickly, vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours can cause serious complications, such as dehydration and malnutrition. Children experience these complications much more quickly than adults do. So, keep a close eye on your child and call your doctor if the symptoms persist.

The stomach flu can be a nasty bug. However, by keeping a close eye on your child's symptoms you can help to contain this illness and prevent complications. If you have questions about the stomach flu, call your doctor.

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