Prevea Health

Stomach flu


As a parent, if you’ve had the experience of going through more than 10 dirty diapers a day, changing countless outfits or sitting up all night with a wastebasket next to your child’s head, then you know how miserable a stomach flu can be for you and your child. More importantly, you know how much you wish for your child to just “feel better.”

Causes for an upset tummy
A stomach flu that comes with vomiting and diarrhea is usually a viral infection, and is most common during winter months. Vomiting usually occurs before diarrhea by a day or so, and normally lasts one or two days. When children are vomiting frequently, it’s important to allow their stomach to rest.

How to help when your child is vomiting
  • Constantly offer your child liquids to keep them hydrated.  Avoid solids for the first 24 hours, or until the vomiting slows down.  Small amounts like a teaspoon (5 ml) every 5 minutes of an electrolyte solution are most likely to stay down.
  • If you are breast feeding, continue to breast feed since breast milk is easily absorbed and is good for babies who are vomiting
  • For babies under 1, you can give them Pedialyte®.
  • For children older than 1, you can try Pedialyte® but some children will refuse it. Older children can have any clear liquid like sports drinks, ginger ale, clear soda or fruit juice.*
  • Keep in mind, fruit juice can sometimes make diarrhea worse. If your child has diarrhea, consider starting slow with juices or just switch to something else if juice seems to make it worse.
  • The secret to getting through the vomiting phase of stomach flu is frequent small amounts of fluid. Start with sips and increase the amount as tolerated.

Slowly reintroduce food
When vomiting has stopped for 12 to 24 hours, try frequent, small, bland snacks like:
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Crackers
  • Dry toast
  • Dry cereal, including rice cereal
  • Chicken soup broth
  • Avoid dairy until four to five days after your child has been feeling better.
  • Avoid anything spicy until your child has fully recovered.
  • Slowly increase the size of meals while decreasing the frequency.

Hydration is key
The main goal of treating the stomach flu is preventing dehydration. Make sure your child has wet diapers or is urinating at least twice a day. If their diarrhea is so frequent and runny that you cannot tell if they are urinating, check for tears if/when they cry.

No vomiting, just diarrhea?
If your child has diarrhea, but no vomiting, there is no need to change their diet. Diarrhea is not abnormal or cause for alarm unless it lasts for more than 2 weeks. If diarrhea has been going on for longer than 2 weeks, call your child’s doctor.

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