The stomach virus, also known as gastroenteritis, is a viral infection of the intestines that is usually seen in the fall, winter, and early spring.
What are the symptoms?
Children with the stomach virus can have vomiting, diarrhea, or both. Other symptoms can include abdominal cramping or fever. The symptoms usually last from 3-7 days.
What can I do if my child has the stomach virus?
Treatment is mainly supportive and the most important thing to do is keep your child from getting dehydrated.
- Start with small, frequent sips of clear liquids (pedialyte for infants, Gatorade, ginger ale, popsicles for older kids). Avoid fruit juices – they can make diarrhea worse!
- Once your child is able to keep clear liquids down for 6-12 hours, you can start them on a bland diet (bananas, applesauce, rice, toast, yogurt, jello).
- Once they are tolerating the bland diet for 12 hours, you can progress to regular food slowly.
- If the diarrhea continues, try cutting out milk and other dairy products for a few days. Some kids will have trouble digesting milk and other dairy products and this can prolong the diarrhea.
- Most of the time, medication is not needed and your child’s body will fight off the virus. If nausea and vomiting are not improving after 24hrs or if your child is unable to keep any liquids down, then anti-nausea medications such as Zofran and Phenergan can be used to improve nausea and stop vomiting.
- Probiotics, such as Culturelle for kids, Florastor for kids, and Gerber Soothe, can help improve the diarrhea.
- We do not routinely recommend stomach medications like Pepto-bismol or Imodium for children with the stomach bug.
Things to watch for
- Weight loss
- Urinating less than 3 times a day
- Dry, cracked lips
- Excessive sleepiness