Stomach Infection, Gastro entities, food poisoning, all these are the same…
I know how agonizing it is to deal with an infant/toddler who is suffering from stomach infection as my daughter has it once every two months. Children loose their appetite, a lot of weight, run a temperature, become very cranky as their stomach aches all the time and it is very difficult to administer those smelly antibiotics 3 times a day.
Below are a few tips to tackle this health problem if it is in the initial stage with the least medication:
Causes: This infection is generally caused by a change in weather, change of water when you travel, if the child frequently puts toys or fingers in the mouth and when the child starts to go to school or a daycare and at times caused by stress.
Forcing Food: If your child is a regular eater, but has a sudden decrease in appetite, do not worry. This might be the onset of a stomach infection. If you leave the child and let him/her eat/drink what he/she wants; they would be cured automatically without any medicines. But this is very hard for anxious mothers and food is generally forced and the infection worsens. This leads to vomiting and loose motions as the digestive system has become very weak during an infection.
Medicine: If the child throws up, start with an emetic like ondem, vomikind once a day and give the right dosage according to the age. Do not give even water for at least half an hour after giving an emetic. Remember that once you give the emetic, loose motions would follow as the infection would have to go away from the system in either way. But, it is better to stop vomiting as it would be very uncomfortable for the child. Give paracetamol if the child has fever too.
Milk: Do not give milk or any other milk products other than yoghurt/curd as the infection worsens with milk. This is very difficult for kids who are used to drinking milk 2-3 times a day. In case of infants, breast milk if all right, but dilute the other weaning milk that you use.
Fluids: Give the child plenty of water. Note that the water must be boiled and cooled. Give plenty of fresh fruit juices (use very little sugar and salt while making the juice). You can even give them ORS which comes in a variety of flavors like apple, orange and lemon. You can give the readymade ones which are sold in tetra packs or make one using the sachets. These replace the dehydrated salts and water and cleanse the digestive tract of the infection.
Food: It is better to avoid food completely for at least 1 or 2 days. But, if the child insists on having food, give him/her rice/idly with yoghurt or a less spicy and more watery dal/sambhar. Do not give oily/greasy and spicy foods for a week. Give lot of fruits instead. Food is the most difficult part as the child would feel like eating what other members in the family are eating (please avoid eating things that would tempt the child). Make the child understand that there are worms in the stomach that are causing the stomach pain and all the other trouble and this would subside only if he/she eats/drinks whatever you give.
Appetite: Do not worry about the appetite of the child till at least a week. After the infection subsides completely, I assure you that your child will compensate the weight loss by eating more in the next week. Give only small portions and stop if the child resists. Even juice should be given in small portions and more intervals if the child is resisting.
Other Care: Frequently change the clothes, bed sheets and keep the child clean and tidy, else a urinary infection would follow. Keep the child warm as they would run a temperature sometimes.
Doctor: If the problem is intense and continues for more than 3 days, visit a doctor. A doctor can properly judge the amount of water loss/ dehydration the child has undergone, and would suggest antibiotics and medicines containing lactobacillus, or, if necessary, put the child on drips/saline.
Read the below article if your child is fussy about milk