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Stomach Flu In Toddlers: Causes, Symptoms And Home Remedies

Hearing stories about other toddlers getting the stomach flu often sounds like a nightmare. And quite honestly, it is. That’s because parents find themselves doing more cleaning than they’ve ever done in their lives. To put it bluntly, the stomach flu is gross, it’s difficult to contain and yes, it spreads rapidly meaning that if you come into close contact with your child, there’s a good chance that you will get it, too.

Unfortunately, stomach viruses are common and they are highly contagious and there isn’t much that you can do to avoid it unless you are constantly washing your hands. That, or you can just avoid touching anything outside of your home, which is hard to do.

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The good news is that many people with the stomach flu often recover after a few short days and return back to school or work feeling normal. In the United States, statistics show that less than 2 percent of the estimated 100 million people with stomach flu symptoms per year require hospitalization. That’s why it’s important to look out for the signs and symptoms before the stomach flu party gets started, so to speak.

PREVIOUSLY: The Reason Last Year’s Flu Season Was Deadly Could Have Been Your Fault

Luckily, there are several different ways that you can help protect prevent and treat your family members from the stomach flu. As gross and awful as it sounds, unfortunately there’s a very good chance that your child might come home with the flu year after year, especially if they are still in elementary school.

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Causes

The stomach flu is caused by a number of viruses, mainly norovirus, which accounts for more than 50 percent of all cases. The stomach flu often can be prevented by hand washing, not eating undercooked food or drinking contaminated water, and avoiding direct contact with individuals with the disease.Sadly, there is no vaccine or cure for gastroenteritis. As difficult as it sounds, you have to tough it out until every family member in your household is back to normal.

According to Very Well Health, the stomach flu is typically spread by contact with an infected person or through contaminated food or water. Your doctor will tell you that it’s an intestinal infection marked by diarrhea, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever.

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Credit: iStock / kicsiicsi

Symptoms

Most people who get a stomach virus experience symptoms for 1-3 days but diarrhea may persist for as long as 10 days with some viruses.If someone in your family is sick, stay home and do not go to work, school or day care. You should be symptom-free for 48 hours before returning.The symptoms most often associated with the "stomach flu" are vomiting and diarrhea.

Many children with the stomach flu have similar symptoms to adults but may also be refusing to drink fluids. You or your child may also have a fever, nausea, stomach pain, headache, weakness, and chills. But keep in mind that similar symptoms can be caused by bacteria like E. coli or salmonella and other organisms such as parasites.

The Mayo Clinic says that if you have symptoms that persist longer than 10 days, vomiting that lasts longer than about 24 hours or you have blood in your diarrhea or vomit, seek medical treatment immediately. Also, you might be unintentionally prolonging the symptoms of the stomach virus simply by trying to eat and drink too much too soon.

Credit: iStock / kicsiicsi

Home Remedies

First and foremost, you and your family should avoid contaminated food and water and washing hands often can help prevent infection. Rest and re-hydration are the mainstays of treatment. Have your child drink his or her fluids.In addition to water, older children and adults can drink sports drinks, like Gatorade, Power Aid, while babies and young children can have an oral re-hydration solution, such as Pedialyte.

According to WebMD, antibiotics aren't effective against viruses, and overusing them can contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. It’s also advised that you avoid greasy, sugary and spicy foods until you are completely back to normal. Instead, have your child eat bland foods like gelatin, toast, pretzels or crackers, bananas, rice, and plain noodles. Also have your child sip fluids, such as water, or try a Popsicle.

Also, clean your home and wipe away the germs as best as you can. Use household cleaning products to disinfect surfaces and objects, like counter tops, doorknobs, handles, sinks, toilets, computer keyboards and phones.

READ NEXT: Pediatricians Are Urging Parents To Get Their Kids' Flu Shots ASAP 

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