Gastroenteritis: Symptoms in children

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The indicative symptoms of gastroenteritis include vomiting and diarrhea. A child might also have other symptoms due to the infection such as high temperature (fever) and a stomach ache.

The vomiting typically ceases within 1-3 days while the diarrhea passes within 5-7 days but can persist for up to 2 weeks in some cases.

Indications of dehydration

Gastroenteritis can also lead to dehydration which can be considered serious than the infection itself. It is vital to be well aware of the symptoms of dehydration so that immediate measures are carried out once they are present.

  • Diminished production of tears while crying
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Irritability
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Diminished frequency of urination or fewer soiled diapers
  • Blotchy or pale skin
    It is vital to encourage the child to thoroughly wash hands after using the toilet or before meals.
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sunken fontanelle

A doctor should be consulted as soon as possible if you suspect that a child is dehydrated.

Indications of a serious condition

It is important to note that gastroenteritis has a number of initial symptoms similar to other serious childhood conditions. It is essential to be well aware of these indications which mean that a child has a more serious condition.

  • Body temperature of 39 degrees C or higher in children older than 3 months or 38 degrees C or higher in children younger than 3 months old
  • Unusually rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stiff neck
  • Change in the mental state such as appearing confused
  • Protruding fontanelle or soft part in the head
  • Stool is blood-streaked or has mucus
  • Reddish, blotchy rash that does not fade when glass is pressed against it
  • Greenish vomitus
  • Swelling of the stomach
  • Severe stomach ache
  • Diarrhea that lasts longer than a week or vomiting lasts more than 3 days
  • Symptoms of dehydration becomes worse or persist despite treatment with fluids or oral rehydration solutions

A doctor should be consulted for proper assessment of the condition as soon as possible. In case any of these signs and symptoms is present, bring the individual to the nearest emergency department immediately.

Preventive measures

  • It is vital to encourage the child to thoroughly wash hands after using the toilet or before meals.
  • Regularly wash hands especially after changing diapers or cleaning the toilet.
  • The toilet or potty should be cleaned thoroughly using a disinfectant after every episode of vomiting and diarrhea. Do not forget to clean the seat and handle as well.
  • Avoid sharing of towels, flannels, eating utensils or cutlery with other family members.
  • It is vital that the child should stay at home for at least 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting or diarrhea.

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