While a stomach virus in a toddler is unpleasant for her, it often disappears quickly. The main concern is to keep your child hydrated during the diarrhea, vomiting and fever that these viruses can cause. Toddlers have a higher risk of becoming dehydrated than older children. Ginger ale can make diarrhea worse because of the sugar content and has fallen out of favor for sick toddlers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that parents keep a supply of oral rehydration fluid on hand for stomach virus episodes. Parents can purchase oral rehydration fluid at most drug and grocery stores.
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Oral Rehydration Fluid
The clear fluids that parents often reach for to hydrate a sick child, including water, broth or sports drinks, do not provide the right mix of sugar, salt and other minerals like potassium. Common brand names for oral rehydration fluids include Pedialyte, Naturalyte, Infalyte and CeraLyte. These do not require a prescription. Administer the solution at the first sign of vomiting and diarrhea according to label directions. Some brands also offer freezer pops.
Most children experience a stomach virus at some point. Common causes of vomiting, diarrhea and fever in toddlers include rotavirus, adenovirus and astrovirus. Rotavirus spreads less frequently than in the past due to a vaccine administered to babies since 2006. The vaccine is an oral dose administered three times in the first year. Adenovirus occurs mainly in children younger than age 2 and lasts for five to 12 days. Astrovirus affects mostly young children and occurs primarily in the winter. Astrovirus infections last from two to seven days.
Most cases of stomach virus in toddlers resolve without special treatment other than an oral rehydration fluid and rest. If vomiting occurs frequently have her drink small, frequent spoonfuls of the fluid. Some children find the frozen treat version of rehydration fluid more palatable than liquid. Do not give children medicines like Immodium or Pepto Bismol unless directed by a pediatrician. Allow him to eat food as soon as he gets hungry.
Call your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child becoming dehydrated. Toddlers, because of their size, can dehydrate quickly. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth and tongue, no tears when crying, not urinating for three hours or more, high fever, unusual drowsiness or behavior, or sunken eyes or cheeks. Another way to check for dehydration is gently pinching and releasing the skin, If it does not bounce back into shape right away, call a doctor or head to the emergency room for intravenous fluids.
- Kids Health; Diarrhea; Steven Dowshen; August 2009
- U.S. National Library of Medicine; Viral Gastroenteritis; Linda J. Vorvick, et al.; April 2010
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Viral Gastroenteritis; February 2011
- National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse; Viral Gastroenteritis; April 2011
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Rotavirus Vaccine; December 2010