Coping with Tummy Bugs

While we do our best to avoid them, at some stage all families endure the dreaded stomach bug.

Dealing with stomach bugs in your baby or child can be worrying and challenging. Not only is there lots of cleaning up, the worst part is seeing them suffer.  As adults we know how awful you can feel with a stomach bug so naturally we want to do anything we can to make them feel better fast.

Here are some tips on how to cope when a stomach bug visits your family:


Prevention is definitely the best option. The best way to avoid spreading the illness is through diligent hand washing, especially by those with the virus to prevent it spreading to others. However with babies or young children it can be virtually impossible to avoid passing catching it when you have to take care of them,

You can try through, by maintaining diligent hand washing after any contact with the infected person, anything they have touched or cleaning up is essential to try to avoid catching the bug yourself you may be able to dodge it.

Noroviruses are the most common cause of stomach bugs and can live for days on household surfaces so it is important to give everything that may have been contaminated a good wipe off with a bleach based cleaner. Be sure to include: door handles, light switches, taps and anything else that has frequent touch from many household members.  People can still be infectious for 3 days after the symptoms stop so it pays to continue caution and extra diligence with hand washing and cleaning for the next few days.

Managing the symptoms:

Dehydration: It is really important to watch babies and children carefully for signs of dehydration as left untreated it can be dangerous.

Signs of dehydration include:

  •         A decrease in urine output, or very dark urine,
  •         Dry cracked lips and a dry mouth,
  •         Drowsiness or irritability, sunken eyes or fontanelle (soft spot on babies head)
  •         Cold or dry skin
  •         No tears when crying

If your child has had vomiting or diarrhea and displays any of these symptoms it is important to seek professional medical advice immediately.

Fever:  Fever is sign that the immune system is fighting the virus. Take temperatures regularly throughout the duration. Babies under 3 months need medical attention for any fever over 38°C.(100.4F) In older babies or children if their temperature goes over 39°C (102.2F) it is time to seek medical advice.

Avoiding Dehydration: Breastfeed/ bottle-feed babies more frequently to replace lost fluids. Discourage older children from sculling back large amounts of fluid as this can often end up coming straight back up. Instead encourage small frequent sips of clear fluids or commercially prepared oral rehydration drink such as Pedialyte or Gastrolyte which contain the right balance of water, sugars and salts for maintaining fluid balance. Iceblocks to suck on are also a nice treat that replaces some of the lost fluid.

If they are vomiting frequently or are refusing to drink you may be unable to rehydrate them adequately in which case medical assistance is needed. Do not give children or babies any over the counter medications for vomiting or diarrhea without seeking professional medical advice.

Rest: Babies will likely sleep more and need to rest to recover. If they are weak or lethargic seek professional medical advice. If the child still has energy and wants to play encourage calm restful activities until they are fully recovered. For older children keep them in bed or on the couch with buckets etc close at hand, If you have not avoided the bug yourself there is little option but to stay in bed or somewhere comfortable near a bathroom and wait until the bug runs its course,

When to go back to daycare/school/work?

You can still be infectious for up to 72 hours after symptoms stop so it is recommended to stay home for at least another 2 days after symptoms have eased to prevent spreading the bug to other children.

The information provided in this article in this article is purely informational and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice, Always seek professional medical advice if in any doubt as to health or wellbeing or your child.


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