Melissa Arca, M.D., a mom and pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, is here to walk you through the days-long nightmare known as gastroenteritis:
Prevent the spread
“It’s gross to think about, but this bug is spread via the fecal/oral route,” she says. So everyone needs to wash their hands a lot. It’s also imperative to promptly wash vomited-on clothes and blankets (in hot water) and to disinfect faucets, light switches, and doorknobs with a chlorine bleach–based cleaner. Stash some tubes of Clorox wipes around the house for easy access.
Treat your tot
Dehydration is the biggest concern, so insist on fluids. “Know that if your child can hold fluids down for 20 or 30 minutes, that’s enough time to hydrate,” says Dr. Arca. If your kid repeatedly throws up immediately after drinking, call the doctor. Hit with a diarrhea double whammy? Skip the meds and let the virus, um, run its course.
Comfort your sickie
Get him set up in a comfy position, and try a pillow under his knees or between his thighs. Keep a bag by his bed for emergencies and some flushable wipes in the bathroom. Also, no need to stick to a super-bland diet once he’s ready for food. “Just be sure to keep meals small and avoid fatty, greasy, and sugary foods that are hard to digest,” says Dr. Arca.
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