The vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches and low-grade fever that generally accompany the stomach flu can leave a child in misery for days. Symptoms of the stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, can last for up to 10 days, although some children luck out and feel better after one or two days. While there’s no medication to cure or treat the primary symptoms of this highly contagious virus, you can ease your child’s discomfort through at-home treatments that also help prevent dehydration -- a common risk of the stomach flu.
Encourage your child to get plenty of rest.
Eliminate dairy products and sugary foods from the diet for at least three days once your child shows signs of the stomach flu.
Keep your child hydrated by giving 2 tsp. to 2 tbsp. of clear liquids, such as ice chips, sips of water, flavored electrolyte solutions and frozen oral electrolyte solution pops every 15 minutes. Start with the smallest amount and only give more if your child tolerates the liquid. Do not give foods during this time.
Start the process over with clear fluids of 2 tsp., if your child vomits.
Try giving bland, mild foods if your child hasn’t vomited for the last eight hours. Good choices include toast, saltine crackers, mashed potatoes, rice, bread, bananas and mild soups.
Allow your child to slowly get back to his regular diet, if he hasn’t vomited for 24 hours, but let your child set the pace.
Things You'll Need
Flavored electrolyte solutions
Frozen oral electrolyte solution pops
Bland, mild foods
To prevent the spread of viral gastroenteritis, wash your hands often, and keep your child away from others for at least 24 hours after vomiting has stopped.
Do not give anti-nausea or anti-diarrheal medications unless your doctor prescribes one for your child.
Do not give a child aspirin, which can cause the potentially fatal Reye's syndrome. Give acetaminophen, instead, which can help reduce discomfort and fever.
Contact your doctor if your child shows any signs of dehydration. Symptoms of mild dehydration include dry mouth, no urination for six to eight hours, and few to no tears when your child cries. Symptoms of severe dehydration include sunken eyes, deep and rapid breathing, inactivity, excessive sleepiness, fast or weakened pulse, a dry mouth that looks sticky inside, dry, wrinkled, or doughy skin and no urination for more than eight hours.
Call the doctor if your child has: bloody diarrhea, bright green, yellow-green, bloody, or dark vomit resembling coffee grounds, vomiting accompanied by severe stomach pain, vomiting with a head injury, or a fever of a 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Additionally, seek medical care if swelling, redness, or pain is present in a boy's scrotum.