Home treatment of gastroenteritis (gastro) in children has changed. Here is the latest advice.
Gastro is an infection of the gut, causing diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting, fever and tummy pain. Vomiting usually settles within 24-48 hours but the diarrhoea can last up to 10 days. A virus is the cause in most cases.
The main danger from gastro is dehydration (drying out) and babies under 6 months are most at risk. Signs of dehydration include passing less urine than usual, restlessness, tiredness, thirst, sunken eyes and a dry mouth and skin.
Keep your child drinking
Offer your child small amounts of fluids frequently, say every 10-15 minutes. 'Oral rehydration solutions' (from chemists) are now preferred as they replace lost fluids, sugar and salts. If unavailable, use diluted soft drinks or fruit juice (not low-cal/diet drinks) by mixing 1 cup of soft drink/juice with 4 cups of water. Full strength sugary drinks can make diarrhoea worse.
Continue breast or bottle-feeding with full strength milk formula, as well as giving extra clear fluids between feeds. Diluting formula is no longer recommended.
Do not stop solid food if your child wants to eat. Bread, cereals, rice, lean meat, chicken, fruit and vegetables are suitable.
Medications for vomiting or diarrhoea are not advised in children because of side-effects. Antibiotics are rarely needed.
See your doctor if you are worried, if your child may be dehydrated or is under 6 months of age. Other warning signs are: blood in the stools, persistent tummy pains, high fever, and diarrhoea which is severe or lasts more than 7 days.
More information: http://www.gesa.org.au/.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.