What is Acute Gastroenteritis?

When you hear your health care provider tell you that your toddler has acute gastroenteritis, your heart might fall down into your own gastrointestinal area. To break it down, your child has a stomach bug -- most likely a viral infection that is causing vomiting or diarrhea (or both). It's probably also causing you discomfort since it can be very difficult to see a toddler so sick and not able to do much to help.

Acute Gastroenteritis Treatment

As eager as you are to help your child feel better, remember that less is often more when treating acute gastroenteritis. Common treatments include giving very small amounts of oral rehydration solutions (as little as a teaspoon at a time, according to Pediatrician Vincent Iannelli). Gradually return to a normal diet as soon as your toddler is able. You should watch out for signs of severe dehydration such as decreased urination, sunken eyes and no tears, weight loss, increased heart rate and breathing, and colder-than-usual arms and legs. These signs require immediate medical attention.

Acute Gastroenteritis Prevention

The most important preventive measure you can take is regular and proper hand washing practices, especially before and after diaper changing, to ensure that you do not spread the infection. You should also sanitize your toddler's toys, most importantly after other children who may be sick visit or during winter and early spring when rotavirus infections are more prevalent.

While other viruses can cause acute gastroenteritis, the rotavirus is the most common cause. Be sure to ask your pediatrician about the RotaTeq vaccine to prevent acute gastroenteritis caused by the rotavirus.

In some instances, bacterial infections can cause acute gastroenteritis. So take care to cook food properly and store it safely to prevent infections caused by bacteria like E.

coli and salmonella.

Also Known As: stomach bug, gastroenteritis, stomach virus, stomach flu, intestinal flu

Common Misspellings: gastrointeritis

Examples: The doctor says all my toddler's diarrhea is due to a case of acute gastroenteritis.

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