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What do you do when infants get a stomach virus?

infant with a stomach virus

Gastroenteritis is the medical term for a “stomach virus”. Gastroenteritis is caused by many different viruses. The symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. They are easily spread and typically affect multiple members of a family.

The diagnose is easiest when a patient has vomiting, fever, diarrhea and history of a close contact exposure. Patients with vomiting alone, severe abdominal pain, children less than 3 months and individuals with signs/symptoms of dehydration should see their health care provider.

For older children, therapy is centered around comfort measures and encouraging fluids. Typically, children will vomit spontaneously during the first 6 to 12 hours. After the initially vomiting has slowed ( after they have not vomited in 2 hours), I recommend starting fluids slowly. When children take too much fluid too quickly they often induce vomiting. It is best to start with 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of clear fluid every 15 minutes. As children show they are tolerating these small amounts, the volumes can slowly be increased.

At our house we usually use water. It is fine to use other clear fluids like Gatorade or Pedialyte. Gatorade is designed to replace sweat losses during exercise. Pedialyte was designed to replace diarrheal losses and most children do not like its taste.

Treatment is similar for infants. I would encourage infants to take their regular breast milk or formula and start with small volumes. Some doctors encourage soy or lacto-free milk, but the literature does not support this recommendation.


Written July 5, 2010 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician






gregorygordonmd.com is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D.and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. This website is owned exclusively by Doctors insights LLC. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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