Gastroenteritis is a common infection faced by many children. The severity can range from being a mild tummy pain to mild diarrhoea, to even prolonged episodes of diarrhoea coupled with high fever and dehydration.
Rotavirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis. However, once a baby is exposed to this virus, the baby’s body develops immunity against all future attacks from the virus. Adenovirus is another common virus that affects infants.
Food poisoning is also another common cause behind gastroenteritis. Bacteria like Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli produce toxins which can upset your baby’s stomach. Parasites that live within, or on other organisms can also be a cause.
Common symptoms of gastroenteritis:
- High temperature, headache, accompanied occasionally with aching limbs
- Crampy pains in the baby’s tummy
- Vomiting; can be greenish or yellowish in colour
- Loose or watery stools; blood and mucus can be found in the stool
Gastroenteritis can lead to severe dehydration which leads to drowsiness, pale or mottled skin, cold hands or feet, lethargy, sunken eyes, and dry mouth and tongue, and fast and troubled breathing in babies.
Severe dehydration should be treated as a medical emergency and a doctor’s help must immediately be sought. In case there is a severe fluid loss, tubes need to be inserted down the nose (nasogastric tube) or directly into a vein (intravenously). However, in most cases symptoms of gastroenteritis often settle down within five to seven days and the infection gets remedied with a proper healthy diet and medicines.