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How do I Treat Gastroenteritis in Children?

Alex Paul
Alex Paul

Treatment for gastroenteritis in children varies depending on dehydration is involved. Repeated vomiting and diarrhea, which are symptoms of the problem, can make dehydration more likely. If the child isn’t dehydrated, treatment at home is recommended, and with the parent attempting to continue regular feeding patterns. Mild dehydration can be addressed in a similar way, although medicine to rehydrate the child is important. If the child is severely dehydrated, treatment at a hospital may be required.

Gastroenteritis in children is not a condition in itself, but a term used to describe a set of symptoms. The typical signs of gastroenteritis in children include vomiting, a feeling of nausea, and diarrhea. Infections that cause these types of symptoms are very common; it is estimated that most children will suffer from the problem at least once before the age of five. In most cases, the symptoms are mild and self limiting, which means that medical treatment is not required. If the child becomes dehydrated, however, this can cause additional problems.

Vomiting and diarrhea are signs of gastroenteritis in children.
Vomiting and diarrhea are signs of gastroenteritis in children.

As noted above, treatment for gastroenteritis in children depends on whether the child is dehydrated or not. It can be difficult to tell whether a child is dehydrated, but there are some factors which could increase the risk. If, for example, the child is is in its first year of life, there is a higher chance of dehydration. Regular vomiting, diarrhea, and an inability to take on fluids are also warning signs. If a parent suspects that his or her child is dehydrated, a doctor should be consulted immediately.

If there is no dehydration, gastroenteritis in children is usually safe to treat at home. The child should be fed normally as soon as vomiting decreases or stops. Reducing food intake will not prevent diarrhea, so a normal meal schedule should continue. The child should not drink fizzy drinks or fruit juices because these can make diarrhea worse. Antidiarrheal drugs should usually not be given to children.

A child with mild dehydration can sometimes be treated at home, although the parent may be required to give the child a rehydrating solution. A doctor is usually needed to advise the parent when to take the solution and what to do if the child vomits after taking it. Treatment for children who are severely dehydrated often needs to take place in a hospital, especially if there are signs of the child becoming unconscious. A severely dehydrated child might also exhibit rapid breathing, a fast heart rate, and cold extremities.

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    • Vomiting and diarrhea are signs of gastroenteritis in children.
      By: Africa Studio
      Vomiting and diarrhea are signs of gastroenteritis in children.