There are lots of reasons kids can have tummy upsets and this post could go on for ever, but here are two things you might come across in your day-to-day care setting. To help you prepare for kids tummy upsets (and any illness really), make sure you have proper medical protocols/guidelines in place.
Kids Tummy Upset #1 – Diarrhoea
Diarrhoea is a symptom, usually of an infection. It can be caused by several different kinds of germs and can easily be spread from one person to another. Hygiene and hand washing are important. Food Poisoning is also a cause of diarrhoea, again often because of germs or toxins from the bad food. Changes in diet can also cause diarrhoea.
What to look for:
- stomach pains/cramping in the abdomen,
- unusually frequent, liquid bowel movements,
- blood in the stool,
- dehydration (dry diaper, or peeing less often is one sign)
There is no specific number of bowel movements which indicate diarrhoea. Some people are ‘normal’ when they go twice daily, other people might go twice a week usually. It’s a case of spotting what’s different from normal for your kids.
Get medical attention for anyone who has
- blood or mucous in the stool,
- diarrhoea and vomiting together,
- diarrhoea lasting more than 72 hrs (3 days),
- unusually foul-smelling diarrhoea especially if the stool contains mucous.
General care includes letting them rest if needed and keeping them hydrated. Keep them on clear fluids for 24 hrs (no food, milk, ‘sodas’, etc.). If the diarrhoea persists beyond 24 hrs, talk to their parents or the doc about specific rehydration solutions which may be appropriate. If diarrhoea is severe, consider restricting activities for that day. Disinfect change/toilet areas (and anywhere else which may be contaminated) very carefully. Remember hand washing!
Kids Tummy Upset #2 – Nausea/vomiting
Can have very many causes, but be aware that there may be an underlying condition which could be contagious. Persistent vomiting could be caused by illness, emotional upset, a reaction to medications, food/diet changes, or food poisoning. Other causes of vomiting are beyond this post, but if vomiting comes with a change in consciousness (eg: a head injury) call 9-1-1 for help.
What to look for:
- stomach pains,
Get medical attention if
- the vomiting does not pass (they continue to vomit, or try to, for hours)
- there is also diarrhoea,
- there is unexpected pain (beyond the normal tummy cramps),
- there is blood in the vomit.
General care includes letting them rest if needed and keeping them hydrated. Keep them on clear fluids at first, once they start to feel better they can begin to try small amounts of plain foods – toast, bread, milk, nothing spicy at first! Remember to wipe down toilet areas or other spills and practice good hand hygiene.