Initially, I thought the chicken rice which we had eaten that fateful aftnoon was too oily for BB so it caused a bit of loose stools. To my dismay, it was something more serious & he had most likely contracted it from a neighbourhood indoor playground despite it been not crowded on a weekday & I follow basic hygiene of sanitising / washing hands before & after food as well as upon leaving the playground. That fateful night, BB started developing a slight fever just before bedtime. I immediately applied lemon essential oil to help support his immunity. Shortly after, he started to complain that his tummy was hurting. I then applied some ginger essential oil on his stomach to help support his digestive system. He fell asleep shortly after but I was awoken by his whimpers in the middle of the night. Asked him how he was feeling & his reply was "Tummy very pain". Knowing my boy well, I knew something was amiss so brought him to a nearby 24hr clinic straight away. The GP commented that he could hear a lot of wind in his stomach. Some probiotics & 2 other medicines to help relieve the abdominal pain & gas as well as for the diarrhoea were prescribed for BB.
The next morn, he was kinda lethargic which cld be due to insufficient sleep the night before. The medicines seemed to be working as BB told me his tummy wasn't hurting anymore. However, he was still having intermittent runs & bouts of mild fever.
Poor listless boy :'(
Unfortunately, his condition suddenly took a sharp turn on the 3rd night. After dinner, he diarrhoead numerous times & all within a span of 2 hrs. Worried that he might become dehydrated, we decided to bring him to KKH for a second opinion. After the expected long wait, it was finally our turn. I would say we were quite lucky to get a patient paediatrician who gave us very detailed explanations to all our questions. I've summarised them & added a few other frequently asked questions with reference to the KKH pamphlet handed to us.
Qn 1: What's gastroenteritis?
Ans: It refers to a gut (intestine) infection where there is diarrhoea & is frequently accompanied by vomiting. Fever & abdominal pains (may be relieved for a while each time some stool is passed) are common too.
Qn 2: What causes gastroenteritis?
Ans: Viruses such as rotavirus are usually responsible. Bacteria, such as salmonella, campylobacter or shigella may also caused it, as in food poisoning.
Qn 3: How long will it take for the virus to clear?Ans: The vomiting typically lasts 6 to 24hrs whereas the diarrhoea usually lasts 2 to 4 days. Occasionally, it may go on for 10 to 14 days.
Qn 4: What's viral gastritis (gastric flu)?
Ans: When the infection predominantly affects the stomach, the child has nausea, vomiting, fever, stomach cramps & fatigue as the predominantly symptoms.
Qn 5: Is gastroenteritis / viral gastritis dangerous?
Ans: A major problem is dehydration due to too much fluid lost. However, occasionally, the vomiting & abdominal pain may be early manifestations of more serious illnesss, such as intestinal obstruction, appendicitis, brain infection or a growth in brain, which require early attention.
Qn 6: What're signs of dehyration?
Ans: Signs to look out for are
- not passing urine for the past 6hrs or more (less than 5 wet diapers per day for an infant).
- loss of weight
- dry tongue, eyes &/or lips
- increase in heart rate
Qn 7: How to prevent dehyration?
Ans: Increase the amt of liquid intake by giving small amt in more frequent intervals. However, if LO refuses to drink, u can offer small, frequent amts of barley water, rice water, clear soup, diluted milk or diluted juice (1 cup juice diluted with 4 cups of water). The KKH pd as well as one of the nurses also advise us that we can give him probiotics drinks like Yakult or Vitagen. Therefore, I gave Yakult Ace once a day till he fully recovered.
Qn 8: What other medications can be prescribed for this infection (since the earlier prescribed probiotics & medicines don't seem to be working even though he had been consuming for 2 days already)?
Ans: Majority of children do not need any medicine so the main treatment is to ensure your child remains well hydrated through adequate intake of oral fluids. According to the KKH pd, the only proven & tested effective medicine is actually probiotics. Thus, he prescribed Lactogg probiotics for a course of 5 days. He went on to explain that doctors may occasionally give some medications to relieve the symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain. However, generally, medications used to stop vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain in adults are not used in children due to their side effects. Now that I know this, next time (which I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there won't be) I'll just head to the nearest pharmacy to get Lactogg probiotics ;p
Qn 9: Is there any way to prevent my child from getting gastroenteritis?
Ans: Good hygiene is the key to preventing the spread of it. To reduce the risk
- for newborn babies & infant, bottle hygiene is very impt. Use sterilised milk bottles if
- for older children, parents shld set a gd example by washing our hands & teach them to wash
theirs after going to the toilet / after changing nappies, before touching food, after gardening,
after playing with pets (healthy animals can carry certain harmful bacteria) as well as between
handling raw meat & food ready to be eaten.
Qn 10: What food can we give?
Ans: While there's no need for dietary restrictions, it doesn't matter if your LO has no appetite for solids. However, ensure that he / she continues to take sufficient fluids. Preferably start on a soft diet & fluid of choice. For older kids, bread / biscuits or mashed potatoes can be offered as alternatives too. Been a more cautious Mummy, I only gave him very light stuffs like organic chia seed mee sua with fish / chicken soup, watery fish oats porridge or bread with organic jam as requested by him.
Qn 11: When should I consult a doctor immediately?
Ans: You should when
- your child shows any signs of dehydration.
- there is blood in the diarrhoea or vomitus.
- the vomitus is greenish, which may indicate that there's blockage of the bowels.
- your LO complains of persistent abdominal pain or severe headache.
- the vomiting is persistent, that is, unable to tolerate small amts of fluid at frequent intervals.
- your LO appears pale or lethargic.
- there's painful swelling of the abdomen.
- fever persists for more than 5 days.Whenever in doubt, trust & follow your maternal / paternal instincts as parents always know their kids best!
The entire ordeal lasted 10 full days but we kept him at home 2 more days for good measure. Looking back, I think we've been quite blessed as BB only had diarrhoea & not vomiting or else it could have been worse. Furthermore, the only other person infected was me & I only diarrhoead once. Stomach flu is highly contagious & some gfs shared that their whole family took turns to come down with it. Thus, it is extremely crucial not to share food as well as wash hands more frequently & thoroughly, especially after handling soiled diapers etc. Take extra care & stay safe, peeps!