Gastroenteritis is an illness caused by a virus that can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. It is transmitted through ingestion of the virus. Many children will experience gastroenteritis at least once.
Typically, the illness will start with vomiting and progress to diarrhea. Vomiting typically improves over a couple days, however diarrhea can persist for 1-3 weeks. We typically do not recommend any medications for diarrhea. Antibiotics are rarely necessary as the illness is commonly caused by a virus. Some bacteria can give similar symptoms, however unless your child is very young, has an immune disorder, or is severely dehydrated, antibiotics are unnecessary even in the case of bacterial infections.
To help your child, the most important thing is to keep him hydrated with water and Pedialyte. Try to avoid juices and dairy. Once your child is feeling better and the vomiting has improved, you can advance the diet to solids that are bland. Starting your child on a probiotic may also help improve symptoms.
Signs of dehydration include decreased urine output, usually only 1-2 wet diapers in 24 hours, decreased salivation and crying with no tears. Sometimes in babies, their soft spot on their head may feel sunken in. Dehydration is a reason to contact your pediatrician. Other reasons to contact us would be if you notice blood in your child’s stool or vomit, or if they are vomiting green material.