How Do I Know If My Child Has the Stomach Flu?
The two words every parent dreads to hear around school: stomach flu. Your little one will experience stomach pains at some point or another, but it can be hard to know if they just have an upset stomach or if they're sick.
Typically, two of the leading causes of stomach pain in children are stomach flu or food poisoning. Symptoms can be very similar, but knowing the difference is not always easy to do. Here’s what you should know about the stomach flu and how to help your little one feel better:
What is the Stomach Flu?
Did you know that the stomach flu is not actually the flu? This term is inaccurate, as the virus that causes the stomach flu is not the same as the traditional influenza virus. The stomach flu is usually caused by one of three viruses:
According to the CDC, norovirus is the most common cause of stomach flu in kids under five years. It gives up to 21 million people the stomach flu every year and leads to about a million visits to pediatricians every year.
The stomach virus spreads quickly by ingesting contaminated food or drinks or indirect or direct mouth contact with a person or surface that contains the virus. Food poisoning, in contrast, typically occurs within hours of eating food contaminated with bacteria. Symptoms are generally the same as the stomach flu, but food poisoning is not contagious.
What Are The Symptoms?
Just as you may assume, feeling very sick, with diarrhea and vomiting many times a day, are the most common signs that your little one has the stomach flu.
Young children who have the influenza virus may also experience vomiting and diarrhea — just as children with the stomach bug typically experience these other flu-like symptoms:
- Loss of appetite.
- Stomach cramps.
- Low-grade fever.
If your child presents with any of these symptoms, you should take them to their pediatrician for treatment. If they have the stomach flu, know that your child is contagious the moment symptoms occur until a few days after their recovery.
Stomach Flu Treatment in Longview, Nacogdoches, and Odessa
If your child experiences these symptoms, you should bring them in to Excel ER for emergency treatment:
- Frequent vomiting and diarrhea.
- Extreme pain.
- Can't keep down liquids for more than three days.
- Temperature is higher than 101.5.
- Signs of severe dehydration.
- Neurological symptoms (such as blurry vision or muscle weakness.)