Stomach Flu – Indications and Treatment

October 11, 2019

Dr. Derrick: Welcome back. It may surprise you that as many 200,000 people are hospitalized each year for complications of the stomach flu. No matter how old your are, the thought of vomiting, diarrhea and everything else that accompanies it can make you just go, “Ugh!” or wince but it’s children who are most at risk. Here with some advice for parents on how to deal with the virus is Dr. Elizabeth Henry, a pediatrician with New Brunswick Pediatric Group at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. Thank you so much for being here. Dr. Elizabeth: Oh, thank you for having me. Dr. Derrick: This is so common this time of the year. What is– what’s the definition of a stomach flu? Dr. Elizabeth: The stomach flu– the medical term is gastroenteritis, and the stomach flu is when you get vomiting, diarrhea. It can be caused by various viruses or bacteria but this time of year, it’s mostly caused by a virus called rotavirus. So as a pediatrician, I get tons of calls from parents about their children being sick, and they’re throwing up, they’re having diarrhea and what to do. Dr. Derrick: And you know what? I’m getting tons of calls from my adult patients who are saying, “I have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.” So as we said before, children are the most affected but adults are also in there. How is this spread by the way? Dr. Elizabeth: Well, it’s very contagious and it’s mostly spread via the fecal-oral route which means– especially with kids and diapers, you know, they’re touching their diapers, they touch the contertops or toys and some other child puts it in their mouth, and that’s how it spreads. So, hygiene is key and very important. Dr. Derrick: So I would imagine, if you have vomiting, diarrhea and all of this things in between, the most important thing that we need to look for is dehydration, right? Dr. Elizabeth: Yes. Dr. Derrick: Dehydration, some of the warning signs. What are some of the warning signs of dehydration that really pop out in your head? Dr. Elizabeth: The key– one of the main warning signs is a decreased number of wet diapers if they’re in diapers or they’re just not urinating and going to the bathroom a lot urinating. So, that’s 1 key warning sign. There’s also they’re not crying tears when they’re giving a good cry which normally would produce tears. They have dry cracked lips, they’re very weak and lethargic. So those are just a few of the main warning signs. Dr. Derrick: Now, one of the things that we have up there was in children, the spot, the frontal fontanelle. Can you just talk a little bit about that and how we even check that and what the importance of that is. Dr. Elizabeth: Yes, with babies, you know, they have that spot at the head. Dr. Derrick: Up to what age by the way? Dr. Elizabeth: Up to a year– Dr. Derrick: Okay. Dr. Elizabeth: You can really feel that soft spot. So if it’s sunken in, that means they’re not getting enough fluid and that you should call your doctor. Dr. Derrick: And also irritability, lethargy, those are all important things. So what do we do? Treatment, it seems obvious that you hydrate. Dr. Elizabeth: Yes. Dr. Derrick: But hydrate with what? And when we talk about drinking of fluids, right? Dr. Elizabeth: Yes. Dr. Derrick: What do you mean by that? What kind of fluids? Dr. Elizabeth: The key fluid is electrolyte fluids, fluids which replace the electrolytes that are lost. Dr. Derrick: The Pedialyte type things? Dr. Elizabeth: Pedialyte is one brand that is great that we always recommend. Pedialyte for the young infants and toddlers– Dr. Derrick: Right. Dr. Elizabeth: is key. When you get older, a lot of the older kids hate pedialyte, they won’t drink it, so gatorade will suffice. You have to avoid the juices and the liquids that are heavy with sugar. Dr. Derrick: Right, so the greasy, fatty foods are another thing that people should be avoiding– the children should be avoiding? Dr. Elizabeth: Yes. When eating, you should start with a bland diet as long as you can keep down the fluids. Start with a bland diet, light diet, avoid the greasy foods, avoid a lot dairy. Dr. Derrick: Right, so the light bland diet and also watch for the warning signs of the dehydration which we’ve talked about already. Dr. Elizabeth: Yes, definitely. Dr. Derrick: And what point do you call the doctor if you get concerned about your children or even as an adult? Dr. Elizabeth: Yes, well you should call the doctor when you have any of those signs of dehydration or when your child is vomiting non-stop, can’t keep anything down through the mouth and everything is coming up to the other end. So, definitely you need the input and advice of your pediatrician. Dr. Derrick: How long did you say? That that needs to be 24 hours? 48 hours? Dr. Elizabeth: I would say over a 24 hour period, you should assess it. I mean if there are no wet diapers in 24 hour periods, that’s a definitely. You need to call or you should have called earlier. Dr. Derrick: And how long does this flu – stomach flu – typically last? Dr. Elizabeth: Usually it lasts about 5 days or so. It can run– too long is 7 days. Dr. Derrick: And gradually getting better obviously over the 5 days. Dr. Elizabeth: Yes, yes. Dr. Derrick: And treatment, do you have– are there any medicines or anything that we can give people? Dr. Elizabeth: No real medicines. I advice not to use anything like Imodium or any of those anti-motility medicines. So definitely, do not use those things. Dr. Derrick: Right. Dr. Elizabeth: Occasionally, the doctor may prescribe something by mouth just to soothe and calm the vomiting but that’s up to the doctor’s discretion. Dr. Derrick: Let it get out of your system is the important piece. Dr. Elizabeth: Yes, the toxins need to be removed naturally. Dr. Derrick: Great, thank you very much for joining us. Dr. Elizabeth: It was a pleasure, thank you. Dr. Derrick: If you have any questions about anything you’ve seen on the show today, email them to us at #[5:22][email protected] Thanks for watching 12 To Your Health. Until next time Captions by

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