What Are the Causes of Recurrent Stomach Viruses in Children?

Cute sick girl being looked after
Children are susceptible to the effects gastroenteritis, such as dehydration. (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images)

Stomach viruses, also known as gastroenteritis, are a common source of diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain for children. Recurrent stomach viruses should alert caregivers that something in the child’s environment is contributing to this chronic re-infection. The most concerning aspect of gastroenteritis is dehydration; children process their nutrients much quicker than adults and can quickly become dehydrated and ill.

Poor Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene, or lack thereof, is a factor in gastroenteritis in children. This is especially crucial in day care centers, where the viral illness can repeat a cycle from caregiver to child to caregiver. Recurrent stomach viruses frequently develop due to rotavirus and norovirus; both are highly contagious. Caregivers aren't the only ones responsible for disease transmission. Young children must be taught proper hand washing at an early age to prevent recurrent infections.

Food Exposure

Gastroenteritis is sometimes informally referred to as food poisoning. The viruses that cause stomach flu can live on foods, preparation surfaces and in some meats When children eat at mass food environments, such as cafeterias, the chance of getting gastroenteritis escalates. Other contributions to this stomach illness include eating improperly washed fruits and vegetables. Mayonnaise, especially in foods such as salads, can cause recurrent gastroenteritis in children when not stored properly.

Immature Immune Systems

Every system in a child’s body, including her immune system and response, is growing and maturing. Kidshealth says the actual age varies, but most children do not reach physical maturity until their late teens. The immune system has a memory that allows it to respond quicker to any invading microbes, such as those causative of gastroenteritis. Immature immune systems, especially children’s, are susceptible to stomach flu and other invading pathogens more than adults.

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