Medical Conditions



Gastroenteritis: When Your Child Needs Hospital Care

Print, Share, or View Spanish version of this article

Gastroenteritis is a common childhood illness that causes diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration. It is usually caused by a virus but can also be caused by bacteria or a parasite. Most of the time mild diarrhea and vomiting last for just a few days. However, if symptoms don't go away or they get worse, your child may need to be treated in the hospital.

Symptoms to watch for

Call your child's doctor if your child is younger than 6 months and has any of the following:

  • Blood in the stool

  • Frequent vomiting

  • Stomach pain

  • Urinates less often (Wets fewer than 6 diapers per day.)

  • No tears when crying

  • Loss of appetite for liquids

  • High fever (over 102°F or 39°C)

  • Frequent diarrhea

  • Dry, sticky mouth

  • Weight loss

  • Extreme thirst

Care of your child at the hospital

The biggest concern with gastroenteritis is dehydration, which occurs when a child loses too much fluid and becomes dried out. If your child has lost a lot of fluids from vomiting or diarrhea, he may need an IV to get fluids back into his body. An IV is a small plastic tube that is placed inside a vein under your child's skin. Fluids are given through the IV.

When can my child go home?

Once your child gets fluids into her body and starts making normal amounts of urine again, she will be able to go home. This can take only a few hours, or your child may need to stay overnight in the hospital.

Care of your child at home

For cases of mild to moderate diarrhea, continue to give your child a normal diet including formula or milk. Breastfeeding can continue. If your child is not able to tolerate cow's milk because of the diarrhea, talk with your child's doctor about temporarily removing it from his diet.

Special fluids called electrolyte solutions have been designed to replace water and salts lost during diarrhea. Do not try to prepare these special fluids yourself. Ask your child's doctor or a pharmacist for a recommendation.

Continue to feed your child if he is not vomiting. You may have to give your child smaller amounts of food than normal or give your child foods that do not further upset his stomach.

Keep your child healthy

The following are ways to keep your child healthy:

  • Stop germs from spreading. Frequent hand washing with soap or using a hand sanitizer is the best way to prevent these germs from spreading.

  • Avoid germs. Try to keep your child away from children who have diarrhea or are vomiting.

Copyright © 2008

Is Your Child Sick?TM

WHAT'S GOING AROUND? VISUAL SYMPTOM CHECKER

News @ Our Office

  • 2018 Flu Clinics Available

    Click here for flu information and forms. Be sure to call to schedule your Flu Clinic appointment for this year. 
     
  • Be sure to like us on Facebook and watch for weekly pediatric tips!

  • ATTENTION BREASTFEEDING MOMS:

    Do you have breastfeeding issues or questions? Please schedule an appointment with Leontine Wallace, RN, Pediatric Care Corner's Lactation Consultant. Let her help you with your breastfeeding challenges.
     
  • Call early for appointments:

    We offer plenty of same day sick appointments and begin answering phones 30 minutes before the office opens. Please be aware that our after school hours are limited, so call early for an appointment that best meets your needs.
     
  • Special Needs Community

    Team GUTS is a non profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the special needs community. They provide one-on-one training, fitness training, strength training, yoga, Zumba, and sports camps for children with special needs. Click here for more information.
     
  • Pediatric Care Corner Pediatricians named Mom Approved Docs for 2018

    Congratulations to Dr. Boyle, Dr. Bobal-Savage, Dr. Economy, Dr. Hornik, and Dr. Ober on your recognition by Metro Parent as a 2018 Mom Approved Doc. Thank you to those patients who nominated them!
     
  • AAP Car Seat Recommendations

    AAP recommends infants remain in rear facing car seats until they meet the maximum height or weight recommendations from the manufacturer.