Boys Town Pediatrics
Next to the common cold, gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines, is the most common illness your child will develop. This illness is also called the “stomach flu” by many and should not be confused with influenza, which is primarily a respiratory illness.
With gastroenteritis, your child will develop one or more of the following symptoms:
Rest the intestinal tract, but give enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Most victims of gastroenteritis will recover if you “rest” the intestinal tract for a few days by changing the diet to easily absorbed and digested fluids and foods. Many times the child is made sicker by being made to drink and eat the wrong foods. When adults have an upset stomach, they simply don’t eat or drink much; they rest their intestinal tract. But when their child is sick, they tend to try to force him to eat too much too soon, causing more vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain than would have occurred if they had just waited until the child began to want to eat.
View our online fever management guide for tips on treating your child's fever symptoms.
Advance the diet through the following stages as the child’s condition allows. If the child doesn’t tolerate the next stage, go back to the level he was doing OK on for a while.
Offer nothing. You may give Pedialyte or ice chips if the child has “dry heaves,” which may last about four hours.
Clear liquids until hungry. (Start with small amounts and increase as tolerated.) The balanced electrolyte solutions (Pedialyte) are the best and should be used for infants. For older children, ice chips and water, ½ strength Gatorade or diet decaffeinated clear sodas are OK. (Avoid fruit juice as the high sugar content can aggravate vomiting and diarrhea.)
(If the child only has diarrhea you may start here.)
When hungry, start “easy to digest foods.”
Regular diet when diarrhea is improved and your child does well with the above.
Your child may need additional treatment recommended by your doctor if one of the following occurs: