What is gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is a medical condition of gastrointestinal tract inflammation. The common infection sources of gastroenteritis include bacteria, viruses or parasites. Transmission may occur due to improper diet preparation, poor hygiene behavior or contacting contaminated materials.
What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis?
- Diarrhea: the increase of bowel movement frequencies, stool volume, stool watery content, and softer stool consistency. A child with diarrhea could have bowel movements ranging from 1-2 times to 10-20 times daily. The stools might appear greenish and may be accompanied by a strong odor or slimy discharge with a strike of blood.
- Vomiting and abdominal pain
- Activity change: showing restlessness, fatigue, sleepiness, or agitation.
- Dehydration: dry lips and skin, decreased intraocular fluids, decreased urinary output accompanying darker-colored urine. An infant may have front fontanel depression or eye socket.(If your children are having above symptoms, not necessary indicating a gastroenteritis diagnosis, please visit Pediatric Department for medical attention.)
Cautions for daily life at home:
- Prevent spread of pathogens: both children and caregivers should wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer more than 20 seconds before eating, after contacting feces, or after toilet.
- Adequate intake
- Breast-milk feeding: Upon physician’s evaluation, breastfeeding could continue.
- Formula-milk feeding: Under physician’s instructions, lactose free formula milk or half concentration formula milk might be given to children.
- General diet: children with diarrhea might be given oral electrolyte solutions upon physician’s instructions. When diarrhea gets better, light soft food, such as rice soup, white toast, steamed bread, and rice can be given to children. Avoid greasy food, beans, dairy products and high sugar foods, such as juice, soda and snack. It is to leave gastrointestinal tract a proper rest. Under physician’s instructions, probiotics can be given to children with normal immune function. If diarrhea does not improve, it is recommended to go to hospital for medical attention immediately.
- Stools with higher acidity during diarrhea may irritate skin. Skin redness may occur and result in diaper rash. Therefore, the skin on the uttocks needs to receive proper attention.
- Change diapers regularly. After each bowel movement, clean the skin around the anus with warm water and gently wipe it, dry with a soft otton towel. Keep the buttocks dry and ventilated at all time.
- In situations of no diaper rash, applying Vaseline on the skin around the anus after cleaning for preventing diaper rash.
- If diaper rash on the buttocks, apply ointment by physician’s instructions.
- How to manage children’s vomiting
- When a child vomits, keep child’s upper body leaning forward, maintain head in a lower position or the face facing the side. The vomit should be cleaned up immediately for preventing aspiration pneumonia.
- After vomiting, cleaning mouth and face area, keep skin dry and comfortable.
- In cases of acute vomiting, the child has to fast for 2-4 hours and drink a small amount of water, increase the amount of food gradually.
- Lin, M. H., Huang, Y. F., Wang, Y. W., Feng, M. C. (2017). Probiotics for the efficacy and safety of pediatric antibiotic-associated diarrhea - a meta-analysis. The Kaohsiung Journal of Nursing, 34(3), 1-12. doi：10.6692/KJN.201712_34(3).0001.
- Lu, C. C. (2015). Viral gastroenteritis in children. Fooyin University Institutional Repository, 85, 2-3.
- Shannon, R. (2016). Gastrointestinal disorders. In B. Richardson (Ed), Pediatric primary care: practice guidelines for nurses (3rd ed, pp.367-412). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.