Updated: Jun 24, 2020
Stomach Bug: Prevention and Treatment Tips for Parents
To keep from catching the Bug.... wash hands, don't share cups and utensils, try not to have a face to face with anyone that may be sick. To help keep help prevent the bug from spreading to other family members etc, its SOAP AND WATER to kill or at least to wash the bug out of harm's way. Consider a change of bed sheets and clean up areas of vomit and diarrhea with warm soapy water. Wash clothing, bedding using hot water for the wash, and use high heat.
Vomiting: Once it starts it may seem like it's going to never end but typical it lasts for 24 to 48 hours. With stomach bugs/gastroenteritis, as the infection moves through the stomach and intestines, vomiting stops after about 24 hours and often it is replaced by diarrhea which can last for days off and on. To help your child stay hydrated, small sips of fluids tend to stay down longer/more than gulps of fluids. Consider breastfeeding or formula feeding in smaller amounts but more frequently to help the upset tummy have less to process at a time. Studies have shown that small sips of fluids common to children's everyday diet can be just as effective in keeping them hydrated as the special electrolyte fluids of Pedialyte etc. Popsicles are a good way to help toddlers through adults get some fluids on board..and that makes everyone feel a little better.
Don't try to get your child to eat solid foods too soon. Solids are harder to process and could start the vomiting merry go round all over again. If your child has kept down fluids for over 8-10 hours without vomiting, it may be ok to try some very bland solids like a small piece of banana, small amount rice with nothing on it, a small piece of toast with nothing on it. Still, when in doubt, hydration is key so small sips of fluids are a must...solids can wait and check with your pediatrician.
There are some medications a pediatrician can prescribe for your 2 years of age and older child that slow down nausea/vomiting and diarrhea. However, these medicines are often not needed. Talk with your child’s pediatrician if you have questions about when these medications may benefit your child.
When is it ok for your child to go back to school, daycare, summer camp etc? I like to think if this as a three-part checklist:
Are they still infectious? Well if they had a fever in the last 24 hours, vomiting and/or diarrhea in the last 24 hours they are surely still in the highly infectious category so no check in that box. Do they seem like they will have enough energy to get through the day without your loving, supportive care? She is back to go go go energy versus just wants to lay around, be held, or take a nap? Lastly, is there anything about your child that a teacher, daycare provider will see/experience with your child that makes them call you to come to pick your child up and take them home anyway?...then consider not sending them to school/daycare today to start with.
As with any medical concern, if your child has special needs, is a newborn/infant or other concerns that would make it wise to see a pediatric doctor or ER or call 911. Do that for sure rather than staying at home trying to figure out all the above for you and your child. I love doing internet searches...I do a search almost every day as a doctor BUT, I also have nearly 30 years of experience as a pediatric doctor to filter what I find on the internet though.
When in doubt, give us a call, make an appointment, seek the right level of care.
Dr Eddie Herd, MD :)