Babies and ChildrenGastroenteritis in Babies: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Gastroenteritis in Babies: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Gastroenteritis in babies is a very common digestive and intestinal disease. But, how is it spread and what symptoms does it produce? What to do to treat it? We reveal everything to you.

There is nothing that can worry a mother or father more than that their child is sick, even more so when they are suffering from gastroenteritis, due to the different complications that they can have if the little one is not adequately and conveniently hydrated.

In the particular case of gastroenteritis, we are faced with inflammation of both the stomach lining and the intestines. In fact, while inflammation only of the stomach lining is medically known as gastritis, the only inflammation of the intestines is called enteritis  (hence its full medical name).

We are faced with a tremendously common digestive and intestinal condition, which consists not only in inflammation, but also in the irritation of the entire digestive tract and tube itself. It is also known from a more popular point of view as the stomach flu, which can be misleading because it is not actually caused by any flu or influenza virus.

What are the causes of gastroenteritis in babies?

Gastroenteritis is caused by different types of viruses, among which we find rotavirus, adenovirus, astrovirus and calicivirus, which consist precisely of the most common.

If we take into account that viral gastroenteritis is extremely contagious, it is quite likely that the sick baby has shared a toy, kitchen utensil or even eaten a food or drink contaminated with the virus. For this reason, it is a very common virus in nurseries, where contagion occurs more easily.

There are also other forms of contagion. For example, touching feces or infected fecal matter (a diaper or the wipe used to clean the baby), and then they have put their hands in their mouth. Although it may seem certainly unpleasant, the reality is that this happens on many occasions, especially in day care centers.

In fact, it is estimated that most babies get gastroenteritis at least three times a year, especially if they go to daycare daily or frequently and are still young. What’s more, after 3 years of age they are not as likely to contract the disease as often because their immune system improves.

What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis in babies?

The symptoms can be mild or severe, and their duration as well, being able to last only a few hours in some cases or reach up to several days (between two to three days approximately) depending on the cause that originated the contagion and therefore the disease.

Among the most common symptoms that arise when the baby has gastroenteritis, we can name them below in the following section:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting
  • Fever.
  • Shaking chills.
  • Muscle pain and headache
  • Abdominal pain.

However, the most common is that at first the baby loses his appetite, and then after a few hours diarrhea begins to appear. Later, vomiting, watery diarrhea, fever and stomach pains are common.

How is the treatment of gastroenteritis in babies?

It is essential to maintain adequate hydration, so that the baby must owe a large amount of fluids to avoid dehydration, since through both diarrhea and vomiting the little one tends to lose a lot of fluids. Thus, it is advisable to follow some of the following recommendations:

  • If your baby breastfeeds:  it is not necessary to change anything in the diet, so that the mother can continue to breastfeed him anyway. However, during the acute phase that can last between 3 to 4 hours, it is advisable to suspend breastfeeding momentarily until the vomiting disappears (obviously, if the baby is vomiting). Then you can breastfeed again. It is also advisable to offer your little one a balanced solution of salts and sugars specially developed for babies between one feedings and another.
  • If the baby takes a bottle: it  is advisable to suspend bottle feedings for at least 12 hours, and offer only the salt and sugar solution indicated by the pediatrician.
  • If you already consume solid food:  in these cases it is advised that during the first 24 hours you do not consume any food, only advising you with water, tea and carrot juice, without sugar. In addition to offering an oral rehydration solution when the nausea has subsided. Then small amounts of biscuits, white rice or chicken breast are recommended when the baby does not have vomiting or diarrhea.

When to call the doctor?

It is advisable to call your pediatrician if the baby begins to vomit or have diarrhea, and when his symptoms last for more than 24 hours (especially vomiting and diarrhea) or you see blood in his stool.

You should also go to the doctor when the little one has any symptoms of dehydration, such as if it is more than 6 hours without wetting the diaper, sleeps a lot or is very irritable, has wrinkled skin and sunken eyes, has dry lips or sunken fontanel.

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