How to tell if your sick kiddo is getting enough fluids.
Stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, has got to be one of the worst infections you can catch: stomach cramps, diarrhea, and non-stop vomiting for at least 24 to 48 hours? (Please, no.) But all that bathroom business can lead to another serious issue: dehydration.
Besides managing your child’s symptoms (and all that clean up), parents will also need to monitor their kid’s fluid intake when they’re sick with a stomach virus. The key is to make sure they’re drinking,” says Preeti Parikh, MD, a pediatrician at The Mount Sinai Hospital and chief medical editor at HealthiNation. “If they’re not eating, it’s okay.”
One option Dr. Parikh recommends is ice pops. Standard fruity freezer pops (on a stick or in a tube) do the trick, but electrolyte-replacement pops like Pedialyte can make up for the lack of food and drink your child is getting. Skip fruit juice, sodas, Jell-O, or broth, which can make diarrhea worse.
But don’t give kids free reign to start guzzling: Let them try a few licks or sips of the ice pop (or water) and see what they can tolerate. If they keep it down, then see if they can have a little more. “That’s really important because if you give too much fluid too quickly, it can cause them to throw up, and also it can make their diarrhea get worse,” says Dr. Parikh.
Of course, babies aren’t going to tell you if they’re dehydrated. One clue is urination. Infants and children should be urinating every four to six hours. If they’re going less frequently than that, they are likely becoming dehydrated from the stomach flu.
The appearance of the pee can also be a clue. If you notice pink or orange crystals in the baby’s diaper, or the older child’s pee is a dark yellow hue, that may signal dehydration. (Learn more here about what your pee color can tell you.) Finally, cracked or chapped lips can signal a lack of fluids in the body, according to Dr. Parikh.
Call your pediatrician or primary care doctor if you notice the following signs when your child is sick with a stomach virus:
Your child’s heart rate rises
Your child seems “out of it”
Your child is sleeping more than usual
Your child is not drinking or eating at all
These are all signs that their condition may be getting worse.
As for taking care of yourself and the rest of the family, here are tips to prevent the stomach virus from spreading. P.S. Don’t bother with grape juice. Here’s why grape juice won’t ward off the stomach flu.
Preeti Parikh, MD serves as the Chief Medical Officer of HealthiNation. She is a board-certified pediatrician practicing at Westside Pediatrics, is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and is an American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and has completed post-graduate training at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
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So when children have stomach flu, and
if you remember if you've ever had it,
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it's really hard.
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You don't have much of an appetite, but we
need to make sure that they stay hydrated.
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So the key is to make sure
that they're drinking.
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If they're not eating, it's okay.
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So I always recommend Pops ice pops,
either fruit pops or electrolyte,
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like Pedialyte ice pops.
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And just make sure that
they're taking small amounts.
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You do a couple sips.
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And if they tolerate it,
then you can increase the amount.
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Every couple of minutes, you slowly
increase the amount that they take.
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And that's really important because if
you give too much fluid too quickly,
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it can cause them to throw up, and can
also make their diarrhea, again, worse.
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When a child has a stomach virus,
what you really get concerned about is
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making sure that they
don't get dehydrated.
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And signs to look for
is to watch their urination.
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How often are they urinating?
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So for babies and infants,
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they should be urinating at least every
four to six hours, having a wet diaper.
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And if you start seeing signs in
the diaper where it's pinkish crystals or
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that could be a sign of dehydration.
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In older children also,
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hopefully they should be also
urinating every four to six hours.
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And if you're starting to see
their urine becoming more dark,
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that could be a sign of dehydration also.
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Other signs to look for on the lips,
if they look cracked and chapped.
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If you see that the heart rate's going up.
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They're really getting more out of it.
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They're sleeping more.
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They're not wanting to want to drink or
eat at all.
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Those are signs that their
condition may be getting worse.
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And you should contact your pediatrician.
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“Stomach flu.” Jacksonville, FL: Kids Health, 2014. (Accessed on January 26, 2018 at http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/stomach-flu.html.)Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu). Washington, DC: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Accessed on January 10, 2021 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000252.htm.)