Gastroenteritis is a stomach infection typically caused by viruses such as rotavirus or norovirus. Many people refer to gastroenteritis as the “stomach flu.” Because of new vaccines, the number of children hospitalized by gastroenteritis has dropped dramatically over the years.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, stomach cramps and a lack of energy.
Gastroenteritis with diarrhea may cause dehydration in small children, especially infants. Dehydration may be prevented if your child is able to eat and drink.
Signs of dehydration may include dry lips and urinating less than normal. Other signs of a severe illness include high fever, blood or mucus in the stool, blood in the vomit, dark green vomit or difficulty waking up. If your child has these symptoms, you should seek medical attention. Severe dehydration can cause serious problems such as shock or damage to multiple organs.
Doctors at Riley at IU Health can diagnose gastroenteritis and dehydration with simple exams, including:
Most children with gastroenteritis can be treated at home with medicines that reduce fever (like acetaminophen), rest and plenty of fluids. Oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte are often the best fluids for children with gastroenteritis. Sports drinks and sodas should be limited due to their high sugar content, which can worsen diarrhea.
Children who are dehydrated are admitted to the hospital to receive intravenous fluids. Medicines may be used to treat symptoms of gastroenteritis but are not used to cure the condition itself.
To find out more about gastroenteritis, please visit the websites below:
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