Helpless is the feeling many parents have when their children are sick.
We suffer, wanting to do something to help.
It is not uncommon for kids in daycare to get ill more often than those who are at home, but this tends to even out when the stay-at-home kids enter school.
The good news for the future is that your child will build immunity when they are exposed to more ‘bugs’ to help them fight them off later.
Now that kids are getting ready to return to school, GI (gastrointestinal) upset or tummy troubles may be more frequent in your home.
We want to do something to help them feel better but aren’t quite sure what to do.
Young children are often prone to GI upset, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, because they put everything in their mouths or taste things in their environment.
It is hard to stop this tactile exploration! If their hands touch a surface. It seems inevitable any germs they pick up will find a way into their mouths from their hands.
Keeping up with their curiosity and washing their hands constantly is not always possible. So, the germs they touch can make them ill.
Older children returning to school are picking up new germs in their learning environment.
Let’s not forget that kids are also susceptible to food poisoning.
They may eat and drink food that has been left out after a meal in hopes they will finish it. Those waiting meal items can become hazardous to their health.
What Parents Can Do
- Keep your child’s food and drinks at the proper temperature. If they don’t finish it, put it in the refrigerator for later instead of leaving them waiting at the dinner table.
- Treat the symptoms. If they are vomiting or have diarrhea it is best to follow your pediatrician’s advice for medications for symptom management.
- Replace fluids. Offer them water to drink to replace some of the fluids they are losing.
- Give them soft foods in small amounts throughout the day after they have had GI upset so that their systems can catch up. Applesauce, toast, water, juice, bananas, dry cereal and rice are all good foods to begin offering them. Avoid dairy, spicy and hard to chew foods in the beginning until they are feeling better.
- Electrolyte replacement may be needed If their GI symptoms are prolonged, you may need one of a variety of fluids such as Pedialyte or Gatorade.
- Contact your doctor if symptoms persist or if they have a high fever.
Fortunately, there are things parents can do in an effort to prevent tummy troubles.
Try to isolate what foods led to the illness if you can. Food that is contaminated needs to be disposed of quickly so no one else eats it and gets sick too.
It is a good idea to wash their toys and change their toothbrushes after they have been ill to prevent re-contamination, especially if it was related to a GI virus.
If their GI trouble is prolonged or has become a chronic condition, it is best to visit the pediatrician to determine if there is a medical cause that needs to be treated.
Be aware that some kids complain of GI upset after eating certain foods because they could be allergic or intolerant to it. It is estimated that one in thirteen kids are allergic to at least one food.
Be observant for signs of allergies in your kids so that you know whether it is just a stomach bug or allergy that will benefit from avoidance of a particular food or foods.
Even though GI symptoms can be disruptive to the family’s routine and parents’ emotions, this too shall pass (usually in 24-48 hours) is certainly true with most tummy trouble in kids!