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ACUTE GASTROENTERITIS IN CHILDREN

by The Welthi Bureau, July 13th, 2021

acute gastroenteritis in children
 Image used for representational purpose only

Gastroenteritis is infection of the gut and one of the common infections of childhood. All children by 5 years of age would have had more than one episode of gastroenteritis. The severity can range from a mild tummy upset for a day or two with some mild diarrhoea, to severe diarrhoea and vomiting for several days or longer.  It is caused by viruses, bacteria and parasitic infestations. Viral infection is most the common cause.  The infection is spread by close contact with infected person or contamination of food and water.

 

Diarrhea which is a protective mechanism to clear Gastrointestinal toxins is one of the main symptoms. Blood or mucus can appear in the stools with some infections. A high temperature (fever), headache and aching limbs sometimes occur says DR. VINOD W CHAHARE, DNB Consultant Gastroenterologist, Olive Hospitals

 

Diarrhoea and vomiting will cause dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration in children include: passing little urine, a dry mouth, a dry tongue and lips, fewer tears when crying, sunken eyes, weakness, being irritable or lethargic.

 

Symptoms of severe dehydration in children include: drowsiness, pale or mottled skin, cold hands or feet, passing very less urine or not at all, fast (but often shallow) breathing. Severe dehydration is medical emergency and can be fatal unless quickly treated because the organs of the body need a certain amount of fluid to function normally.

 

HIGH RISK CASES

 

  • Babies under the age of one year (and particularly those under six months old).
  • A breast-fed baby that has stopped breast-feeding during their illness.
  • Any baby or child who does not drink much when they have gastroenteritis.
  • Any baby or child with severe diarrhoea and vomiting (particularly if they have passed six or more diarrhoeal stools and/or vomited three or more times in the previous 24 hours).

 

When to seek medical help

 

Most children who have gastroenteritis have mild symptoms which will get better in a few days. The important thing is to ensure that they should take good amount of ORS. You should seek medical advice in the following situations (or if there are any other symptoms that you are concerned about):

  • Child is under the age of six months.
  • Child has an underlying medical condition (for example, heart or kidney problems, diabetes, history of premature birth).
  • Child has a fever (high temperature) & not subsiding
  • If you suspect dehydration is developing (symptoms mentioned above).
  • Child appears drowsy or confused.
  • Child is vomiting and unable to keep fluids down.
  • If there is blood in their diarrhoea or vomit.
  • Child has severe abdominal pain.
  • Child has severe symptoms, or if you feel that their condition is getting worse.
  • Child's symptoms are not settling (for example, vomiting for more than 1-2 days, or diarrhoea that does not start to settle after 3-4 days).

 

Management

 

Symptoms of gastroenteritis often settle within a few days or so as a child's immune system is usually able to clear the infection. Children can usually be treated at home. Occasionally, admission to hospital is needed if symptoms are severe, or if complications develop.

Encourage the child to take ORS. Prefer normal diet, avoid fruit juices or fizzy drinks. Breast-feeds or bottle-feeds should be encouraged as normal.

You should not give medicines to stop diarrhoea to children under 12 years old.

Lactose products should only be stopped on doctor’s advice.

Haemolytic uraemic syndrome is a rare complication. It is usually associated with gastroenteritis caused by a certain bacterial infection (E. coli O157). It is a serious condition where there is anaemia, a low platelet count in the blood and kidney failure. If recognised and treated, most children recover well

Persistent diarrhoea and Malnutrition may rarely follow some gut infections. These are mainly seen in high-risk children.

Wash your hands regularly with soap. Dry your hands properly after washing.

Regularly clean the toilets used, with disinfectant. Also, clean the flush handle, toilet seat, sink taps, bathroom surfaces and door handles at least daily with hot water and detergent. Make sure your child washes their hands after going to the toilet. Don't let your child share towels and flannels. They should stay off school, nursery, etc, until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting.

Proper storage, preparation and cooking of food, and good hygiene help to prevent gastroenteritis. Breast-feeding is also protective. Breast-fed babies are much less likely to develop gastroenteritis compared to bottle-fed babies.

Rotavirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in children. There is an effective vaccine against rotavirus. The Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) recommends vaccinating babies against rotavirus along with their other routine vaccinations. It is given at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age.

 

Book Appointment: DR. VINOD W CHAHARE, DNB Consultant Gastroenterologist, Olive Hospitals

 


 Disclaimer: Welthi.com does not guarantee any specific results as a result of the procedures mentioned here, and the results may vary from person to person. Read more
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