Acute Gastroenteritis aka the 'Stomach Flu'
When your child has diarrhea and vomiting, you may say they have the “stomach flu.” These symptoms often are due to a condition called gastroenteritis.
With gastroenteritis, your stomach and intestines are irritated and inflamed. The cause is typically a viral or bacterial infection.
Symptoms of Gastroenteritis
With gastroenteritis, the main symptoms you probably have are watery diarrhea and vomiting. You might also have stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea, and a headache.
Because of diarrhea and vomiting, you also can become dehydrated. Watch for signs of dehydration, such as dry skin and a dry mouth, feeling lightheaded, and being really thirsty. Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
Stomach Flu and Children
Children can get dehydrated quickly, so if your child has the stomach flu, it’s important that you look for signs that they are very thirsty or has dry skin or a dry mouth. If you have a baby, look for fewer, drier diapers.
Keep children with gastroenteritis out of day care or school until all symptoms are gone. Check with your doctor before giving your child any medicine. Drugs used to control diarrhea aren’t usually given to children younger than 5. There is a prescription drug used to control vomiting, but your child will need to be evaluated first.
To help prevent rotavirus — the most common cause of stomach flu for children — there are two vaccines that can be given to infants. Talk to your doctor about the vaccines.