Gastroenteritis in babies is more commonly known as “the stomach flu” or just “the flu”. While both the terms usually speak of the “influenza”, these usually targets different parts or areas of the body. Where the simple flu usually condones to the respiratory system, the stomach flu on the other hand would suggest a viral infection of the digestion tract. Based on its bacterial or viral nature, we can restrict the sources of this flu to contaminated water or stale improper food conditions. Owing to the fact that the immune system is rather weak or unsettled for the first few years of your life, it is rather a common guess that the most patients of this kind are infants or babies, basically young aged. Once they hit the 3 year mark, the immune system in them reboots thereby making immune to contraction of gastroenteritis disease.
The Symptoms and Causes For Gastroenteritis in Babies
As mentioned prior, gastroenteritis in babies is basically a type of inflammation that usually causes effect on the linings of the digestion tract. Depending on the infection variety, these conditions may range from mild mediocre to even severe. The side effects to these are diarrhea, achiness, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and chills. The symptoms however, would only show up 12-72 hours after the disease has been contracted.
The main infection causing agents can be bacteria such as salmonella or E-Coli, viruses such as Rotavirus or even parasites like Giardia. The usual cause for the infection is guessed to be a mouth to hand connection. As we know children are often in the habit of playing with toys then putting their fingers in their mouth. Also, babies that grow up in day-cares or are in zoos, pools, kindergartens or any such other crowded places have a high chance of contracting gastroenteritis.
Although this condition is quite rare, certain allergy types too may cause this infection kind. A weakened immune system cannot ward off the risks caused by the allergic agents present in the food items.
How to contain Gastroenteritis in Babies:
Even though gastroenteritis in babies is a difficult situation often accompanied by pain, the treatment procedure for it is easily accessible and affordable too.
- Intake ample amount of fluid:
Here in this disease, one would lose more liquid than it takes in which is why keeping oneself hydrated is of paramount importance whilst handling a situation like this. However, doctors state that simple intake of water will not replenish the electrolytes the way it is required. This is why they usually advice intake of oral electrolytes solution or re-hydration solutions. These can be availed from the local stores. According to some, for the school kids or the teenagers, the sports drink will do just fine. However, it is not appropriate for the babies or even the young school goers.
Quantity: An excess of fluid intake would trigger a negative reaction towards the digestion process. This is why it is recommended that you feed the baby a tea spoon of this every 5 minutes. Milk, caffeinated drinks or juices containing high acid levels should be laid off since they add on to the stomach problems.
However, one should never exclude breast feeding or formula. These actually help tone down the symptoms and side effects. However, consult your doctor regarding the options before you set on for self treatment.
- Give food but with care:
Once you notice that your child is taking in the fluid and holding it down, you may start giving him or her some bland foods. These include plain yogurt, bread, oats or potato. But before this, ensure that you are feeding him or her banana first. Follow this process now with some meat or vegetables. However, fat, fried or spicy foods should totally be off the chart. These tend to worsen the condition at hand.
- Refrain from using over the counter medicines:
Always keep in mind that gastroenteritis in babies should never be treated using over the counter medications. While medications like acetaminophen usually results in liver problems, medicine like ibuprofen may upset the stomach. The same goes for antibiotics which should strictly be avoided. Even if you use anti-diarrhea medicines to treat a symptoms, this would linger the infection some more. However, if your baby is suffering from stiff fever, medicines like ibuprofen or anti-inflammatory medications may be given to keep the temperature in control.
Gastroenteritis in babies- When to start worrying:
Instant treatment is always appreciated. As soon as you realize the symptoms showing up, immediately consult your pediatrician. This should be done instantly especially if your child is six months or less. The symptoms following may occur- constant dry diapers, discolored or cold extremities, dry lips, excessive sleepiness, crying but no tears, fuzziness or wrinkly skin. All these signs signal towards dehydration. Try giving them liquids in small portions, slow and steady. Apart from dehydration symptoms may include high fever possibly of 101°F, frequent excretion with possible signs of blood in the stool and vomit, hard swollen belly. If any of this above mentioned symptoms occurs, immediately get in touch with your pediatrician to prevent further expansion of gastroenteritis in babies.
How to prevent gastroenteritis in babies from occurring:
The saying goes prevention is always better than cure. It’s always better to take preventive measures than setting in for treatment. Some prevention tips are given below:
- Always wash your and your child’s hand especially after you have used the washroom. Don’t forget to be thorough with the washing. Reach the hard areas such as the nooks and crannies of the finger nails.
- Keep a pack of sanitizers along with you everywhere you go, this is one of the important preventive measures.
- Subject to daily disinfection of the hard surfaces in and around the house for your baby to stay in a hygienic environment.
- Always separate and segregate items of personal use such as cutlery, toothbrushes and even glasses.
- Always be aware of people suffering from gastroenteritis. Maintain your distance. If indeed there is a need for you to be around people suffering from these conditions, such as a day care, make sure they keep a separate changing room with sanitizer’s and sinks.
- The first step to preventing this disease is to talk to your pediatrician about getting your infant or child vaccinated to avoid possible risks of such disease contamination at the early ages.
- When you are travelling, always use bottled water to drink or to do daily activities like brushing your teeth. Also, avoid under-cooked meals or raw food items such as peeled fruits or vegetables. This would allow you to prevent risks of gastroenteritis in babies.