I have a 10-month old. On Saturday, she was vomiting all day. I tried to give her just about everything and regardless of how much it was it all came out. At one point she was gagging with nothing left in her stomach to come out. On Sunday, she threw up once only, but had a fever of 100-101 degrees F. On Monday, she went back to vomiting. Throughout the three days she has been cranky and inconsolable. My doctor told me that she probably has a stomach virus. Could this be more then just a stomach virus?
“Helpless in N.J.”
Dear “Helpless in N.J.”,
Viral Gastroenteritis or a stomach virus is very common in childhood. The symptoms include vomiting, frequent watery diarrhea and a low grade fever. The complications of viral gastroenteritis include dehydration and electrolyte imbalance which if left untreated can be very serious. Therefore it is very important to keep a child with Viral Gastroenteritis hydrated well.
Although a child with Gastroenteritis may develop a fever, sometimes a fever in a child with Gastroenteritis may be a sign that the child is becoming dehydrated. An increasing or persistent fever may also be a sign that the child has another infection such as a throat or ear infection. If the fever persists it is a good idea to follow up with your doctor to rule out other infections.
It is common for children with Gastroenteritis to develop vomiting first, followed by diarrhea hours or days later. Rotavirus, a common type of Viral Gastroenteritis typically begins with 2 to 3 days of vomiting and fever followed by diarrhea. If a child has vomiting and fever and doesn’t develop diarrhea it is a good idea to have her re-evaluated. Infants and children with urinary tract infections many times do not present witht the classic symptoms of painful urination and changes in urinary pattern. Instead they may develop gastroenteritis like symptoms. Therefore if there is a family history of abnormalities in the urinary tract or if your child’s symptoms persist, it would be prudent to see your doctor for an evaluation.
It is very difficult as a parent to have a sick child and even more difficult to keep them hydrated when they are vomiting or having diarrhea. The good news is that most diarrheal illnesses in childhood are due to Viral Gastroenteritis. They usually are self-limiting and last only a few days. With careful monitoring for dehydration and good hydration most children are back to themselves in no time.
Lisa Kelly, R.N., P.N.P.,C.
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric Advice for Parents with Sick Children