The stomach bug is the worst. The vomit is unpredictable. The stomach cramping is constant. And the flashes of chills and then hot flashes agonizingly ward off sleep. It’s even worse to watch the stomach flu in kids as they experience this misery (especially when their vomit never seems to make it to the toilet). This guest post on how to help when your child has the stomach flu has been contributed by By Katie Herrick Bugbee of Care.com
7 Things To Do When Your Child Has The Stomach Flu
Sometime people want to what they have: food poisoning vs stomach flu. Food poisoning and stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis) are different conditions, even though they may share some similar symptoms. Here are some key differences:
- Food Poisoning: Caused by consuming contaminated food or beverages. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins present in the food can lead to illness.
- Stomach Flu: Caused by viruses, such as norovirus or rotavirus. It is not related to influenza, which affects the respiratory system.
- Food Poisoning: Duration can vary depending on the specific contaminant but may last from a few hours to several days.
- Stomach Flu: Symptoms typically resolve within a few days, but it may take a week or more for a full recovery.
If you suspect that you have either food poisoning or stomach flu, it’s essential to seek medical advice for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. These stomach flu tips do not substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider when you have health concerns! You may want to use these stomach flu tips once a doctor has diagnosed the condition.
My family seems to get hit by the stomach flu once a year. It hits the kids, one by one, and for a torturous week, my husband and I (okay, mostly me) sleep on their bedroom floors, waiting for the small cry of “I think I’m gonna…” so we can sleepily stumble into action. Here are the things I’ve learned that are helpful when children have the stomach flu in terms of prevention and comfort along the way.
Tips For Stomach Flu In Kids
Wash — and repeat.
Is the stomach flu contagious? Yes, the stomach flu is highly contagious from the time the symptoms start. But there’s still a chance you can clear the germs from common cuddle areas. Wash these things in hot water: your sheets and duvet (if your child loves climbing in your bed), couch throw pillows, couch blankets, winter jacket and accessories, favorite blankies, animals and lovies, toothbrushes, cups and utensils. Also remember to wash your hands repeatedly – and try not to touch or rub your eyes, nose or mouth unless you’ve just used sanitizer.
Disinfect all commonly used doorknobs, shared phones, remote controls, computer keyboards, toilets and toilet handles and sink faucets. Scrub the bathroom she’s using three times a day. And wear gloves. Also be sure to spray a disinfectant among your child’s belongings and most-visited spots, including her backpack, lunch box, computer, couch, and seat at the table. Remember, she was most contagious before she started puking!
Start a 3-sip system.
The saddest memory of my kids having the stomach bug was how much my son wanted to drink juice after he vomited. He was burning up and just wanted that sweet cold liquid to soothe him. But he couldn’t keep anything down. I called the doctor in the middle of the night, pleading with her for a solution. Her nurse suggested he take three sips every ten minutes. If he couldn’t keep the sips down, we had to start the timer again. This was the best way to hydrate him slowly, and once he felt a little more refreshed, he conked right out, with a bowl by his side.
Refresh cool cloths continually.
The kids are usually burning up with a fever over 102, but shivering with chills. But a cool wash cloth draped on their head still feels good. Also, strip them of their fleece or footed pjs and put them in cotton, breathable jammies.
Get as much sleep as possible, take large doses of vitamin C, eat fruits, veggies, chicken soup, fresh garlic and foods with zinc (nuts, meats, seafood, beans and spinach).
Figure out the care plan.
Your child clearly can’t go to school or daycare the next day. Can you miss work? Can your spouse? Will one of you be able to come home from work early? Would you expose Grandma to this illness? Is there a babysitter who can handle this? Do your company benefits offer a back-up care service that might send a last-minute caregiver to help? Look into all of this – and try to create a plan before the virus strikes!
Enjoy the downtime.
As our kids grow, they get way more active and independent. They bounce off walls and ask “what’s next?” when each activity loses steam. But when they’re sick, they become these sweet, cuddle bugs who just want to sleep, watch TV and give you germ-filled hugs. So soak in a little of this time with them – and then wash your hands!
Have you or your children had the stomach flu yet? Do you have any best practices of your own to share with us for how you help when your child has stomach flu?
When Does Flu Season Start And End?
The short answer is, it starts NOW!
The fact is that seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round but flu season itself can start as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.
According to the CDC, flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and March. But again, now is the time to begin using cold & flu season prevention tips and they should be used year round.
Cold & Flu Season Prevention Tips: Stop The Spread
The below information on flu season and prevention tips were shared by the Global Hygiene Council. They encourage people to take extra care during the cold and flu season. Better hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of infectious disease from stomach flu to the common cold.
Moms don’t get sick days and children play an important role in the spread of cold and flu. Children can touch surfaces up to 300 times in 30 minutes (statistic from International Scientific Forum) and cold and flu viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours. Hygiene changes can have a huge impact on Cold & Flu Season Prevention. Simple measures, such as covering the mouth when coughing, hand washing or using a hand sanitizer, disinfecting surfaces, and keeping food preparation areas hygienically clean, can have a huge impact on pediatric health and the incidence of diarrhea, cold, flu, pneumonia and gastrointestinal infections.
#1 Surface Disinfection
Surface disinfection is a vital line of prevention. With children touching so many things, disinfecting common areas and toys more frequently is a great method to prevent cold and flu spread. May wish to try this DIY sanitizing spray recipe.
#2. Hand Washing.
Hands can carry 3,000 different bacteria (Royal Society for Public Health) and yet inadequate hand hygiene practices are estimated to affect 80% of the global population (Tropical Medicine and International Health). As parents, we may have to remind our kids more frequently to wash their hands with warm water and soap rubbing vigorously for at least 20 seconds and getting all areas. They may need to be reminded to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before eating, after blowing their noise, after coughing, after touching common surfaces in public places, etc.
It is predicted that the risk of respiratory infection can be reduced by as much as 16% simply through handwashing with soap (Trop Med Int Health). Nobody wants to get diarrhea or stomach flu and hand washing can help prevent the spread.
The cold and flu season accounts for an insane number of missed school days and absences from work. Now that more bacteria are becoming antibiotic resistant, it is more important than ever to put into practice these simple Cold & Flu Season Prevention Tips. These hygiene habits in addition to getting the flu vaccine can greatly reduce the cold and flu activity this season. I hope this is the reminder you needed to take extra care during the cold and flu season. Stay well!