Oh no! Is your little one experiencing vomiting and diarrhea? These are common symptoms of a stomach virus in children. Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, headache, decreased appetite, and body aches. While vomiting typically lasts for one to two days, diarrhea can linger for five to seven. In some cases, diarrhea can last for 1-2 weeks! Diarrhea due to a viral illness is typically very loose and watery, but usually does not contain visible blood. Lab work is usually not necessary to confirm the diagnosis of a stomach virus. However, if severe or atypical symptoms are present laboratory testing may be necessary.
The most important treatment for a child with vomiting and diarrhea is oral rehydration. The most used product for oral rehydration is Pedialyte. Pedialyte can be purchased at most grocery/drug stores. Oral rehydration is most successful when small amounts of fluid are administered frequently. Sometimes vomiting can be triggered if too much liquid is consumed in a short time period. An example of giving small amounts of fluid frequently would be a parent giving an ill child five milliliters (one teaspoon) of Pedialyte every 1-2 minutes. Breastfed infants can continue to breastfeed and Pedialyte can be used if the breastmilk is not tolerated. A normal diet (complex carbs, yogurt, fruit, vegetables, lean meats) can be resumed as soon as the child is able to keep down clear fluids. The BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet used to be recommended, however recent research shows that the BRAT diet is restrictive and does not provide optimal nutrition.
Additionally, nausea medication can be prescribed by health care provider to patients who are unable to keep down fluids. In most cases intravenous fluids are not necessary for treatment of patients with vomiting and diarrhea. IV rehydration may be needed if vomiting is persistent and/or the degree of dehydration is severe. Signs of dehydration include dry lips/mouth, decreased urine output (not urinating at least once every 6-8 hours), and lethargy. Anti-diarrheal medication is not recommended for treatment of patients with diarrhea. This medication has the potential to cause severe side effects and is not proven to be effective in management of diarrheal illnesses.
If your child has vomiting and/or diarrhea it is important to have the child evaluated by a healthcare provider. Usually, these symptoms are due to a viral illness. However, there are other health conditions that can cause vomiting and diarrhea as well. Lastly, frequent hand washing is extremely important when in contact with someone who has vomiting and diarrhea in order to prevent the spread of the illness — soap and water!
Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care opened in 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. With multiple locations in San Antonio and Dallas, they are open seven days a week with extended evening hours. They accept most commercial insurance and Medicaid plans. More information about Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care can be found at www.littlespurspedi.com.