Tips to prevent a parent’s worst nightmare: The stomach bug.
“My tummy hurts”: Three little words that can spark instant panic in any parent, especially during stomach virus season in the dead of winter. Some strains of stomach virus can take down an entire elementary school class: They’re hardy, they’re virulent, and they’re quite contagious (especially among little ones who aren’t known for having the best bathroom hygiene).
If you know your child’s been exposed to a stomach virus from a friend or classmate, your main concern is preventing him or her from getting sick too. If your kiddo’s contracted the bug, your mission is to prevent other siblings and family members from being taken down too. Here’s what you need to know:
When Is a Stomach Virus Contagious?
For most stomach viruses, it does take sometimes up to a week to fully feel better, says pediatrician Preeti Parikh, MD, chief medical editor at HealthiNation. “But usually within 24 to 48 hours, you should see some of the vomiting at least decrease. The first day or two may be the worst and then after that you should see that it’s starting to slow down.” Signs that your child is no longer contagious or is less contagious:
- Fever free for 24 hours
- Diarrhea is contained
- No vomit in 24 hours
How to Stop Stomach Virus from Spreading
1. The number-one rule is good hand washing, says Dr. Parikh. Wash vigorously (for 20 seconds, which is longer than you might think) with warm water and soap and show your children how to lather up too.
2. Don’t rely on hand sanitizers to protect you. While they may be effective against other kinds of germs or viruses, hand sanitizer doesn’t kill all kinds of stomach viruses. So you’ll need to stick with old-fashioned soap and water.
3. Clean, clean, clean. You need to disinfect any surfaces your sick child may have touched or gotten sick near. The virus (did we mention how sturdy it is?) can survive mild cleaners, so this is the time to break out the bleach. “Any time they throw up, you really need to make sure you clean it up right away and disinfect that area,” says Dr. Parikh.
4. Be a laundromat. Your child’s clothes, sheets, blankets, and towels are harboring those stomach bugs, and they can survive on such surfaces for many days. This isn’t the time for laundry procrastination. Wash anything that’s come into contact with vomit or poop ASAP, in the hottest water cycle you can (and with bleach when possible).
5. Vaccinate babies. “Another great thing that you can do for your child to help prevent them from getting the stomach bug caused by rotavirus is to give them the rotavirus vaccine,” says Dr. Parikh. “Your pediatrician will have that available for your baby when they’re two months old, and that can help prevent them from getting it in the future.”
And if you think grape juice can keep you safe from a stomach bug, guess again.
Dr. Parikh, a board-certified pediatrician affiliated with The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, is HealthiNation's chief medical editor.
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When your child gets a stomach virus,
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the key is how to prevent it from
hitting the whole household and friends.
00:00:09,065 --> 00:00:11,685
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For most stomach viruses,
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it does take sometimes up to
a week to fully feel better.
00:00:16,990 --> 00:00:18,570
But usually within 24 to 48 hours,
00:00:18,570 --> 00:00:22,800
you should see some of
the vomiting at least decrease.
00:00:22,800 --> 00:00:26,260
And even during that week,
you should see the diarrhea and
00:00:26,260 --> 00:00:29,980
vomiting decrease in terms of
the amount of times it's happening.
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So the first day or
two are maybe the worst, and
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then after that you should see
that it's starting to slow down.
00:00:35,820 --> 00:00:39,050
Signs that your child is
no longer contagious or
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is less contagious is when they are no
longer having a fever for 24 hours.
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Their diarrhea is contained and
that they haven't vomited for 24 hours.
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Ways to help the stomach virus
from spreading is, number one,
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most important is to wash your
hands with warm water and soap.
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And have your children be washing
their hands with soap and water and
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making sure it's warm water.
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And sanitizers are not the best
thing because some viruses are not
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killed by the sanitizer.
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So I always tell my patients to wash
your hands with warm soap and water.
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Other things that you can do is
any surfaces that your child has
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thrown up on or may have touched or
you have, disinfect.
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Any time they throw up, you really need to
make sure you clean it up right away and
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disinfect that area.
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Any clothes that they may have
thrown up on or had diarrhea,
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make sure you're washing them in hot
water to really help kill the germs.
00:01:32,990 --> 00:01:34,310
Another great thing that you could do for
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your child is to help prevent
them from getting the stomach bug
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caused by a rotavirus,
is to give them the rotavirus vaccine.
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Your pediatrician will have that available
for your baby when they're two months old,
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starting at that age that they
can get the vaccine rotavirus.
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And that can help prevent them
from getting it in the future.
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When your child has a stomach virus,
it could feel like an eternity and
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you see them just suffering.
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But if you keep on top
of their hydration and
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make sure that they're washing their
hands, and learn good hygiene,
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and using soap and warm water,
hopefully they won't get it again.
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Viral gastroenteritis (The Basics). UpToDate, 2017. (Accessed on December 19, 2017 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/viral-gastroenteritis-the-basics)
Surviving the Stomach Bug: Truths & Tips for Parents. New Hyde Park, NY: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015. (Accessed on December 19, 2017 at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Surviving-the-Stomach-Bug-Truths-Tips-for-Parents-.aspx)
Stomach Virus (Gastroenteritis). American Academy of Family Physicians, 2017. (Accessed on December 19, 2017 at https://familydoctor.org/condition/stomach-virus-gastroenteritis)