Diarrhoea and Vomiting
Diarrhoea and vomiting are also common childhood illnesses. Most times, viruses are the culprit with the Rotavirus being the most common in children. Others, like norovirus and astroviruses, occasionally cause outbreaks, too. Food poisoning is a form of gastroenteritis, if the child consumes contaminated food or water containing bacteria. Sometimes, diarrhoea may be the only symptom, although associated complaints like vomiting and fever are common. Most cases, the illness lasts for three to six days and often, there is a history of contact with a person who has had similar symptoms.
The main concern when dealing with gastroenteritis is dehydration. Toddlers, and more so infants, can easily become dehydrated if they lose more fluid than they take in. Furthermore, they do not tolerate loss of fluids as well as adults and older children. The main aim of treatment is to ensure adequate fluids intake for that lost in the watery stools.
The trick is to give frequent and small amounts of fluids, so as not to over distend the stomach. Increase the amounts progressively once the child can tolerate. Fortunately, most children will recover gradually over a few days, On the other hand, do consult a doctor if the child shows signs of lethargy, persistent vomiting with worsening diarrhoea, spiking fever, sever abdominal pain or bloody stools. In such situations, it may be necessary to admit the child for observation and intravenous rehydration, if there is no improvement despite oral treatment.