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The Health Gazette

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Gastroenteritis is the medical term for an infection that produces diarrhea with or without vomiting. It can be caused by a number of different bacteria, viruses or parasites. It attacks all different age groups but tends to occur more frequently in children and infants. It is usually more serious in infants. This is because infants tend to get dehydrated easier than older children and adults. The following suggestions are helpful and may even prevent hospitalization.
1. As soon as the diarrhea starts, give your child an oral rehydration solution. These solutions have the appropriate amount of salt and electrolytes. The best solutions are Pedialyte, Rehydralyte, Resol and Ricelyte. You can buy these solutions from the grocery store or pharmacy. You should avoid Gatorade, soft drinks, fruit juice and Jell-O water.
2. Give one teaspoon of the solution every minute for one hour. If your child vomits, wait for 5 minutes and start giving the fluid at the same rate. As long as your child continues to have vomiting and/or diarrhea, it is important to keep them as well hydrated as possible. Repeat this procedure every 4 hours as long as they continue to have vomiting and/or diarrhea.
3. The diarrhea will actually get better if you will feed them some solid food. This can begin right after giving them the fluids for one hour. The best kind of food is commonly referred to as the BRAT diet. This consist of bananas, rice, apples or applesauce (without sugar), toast, pasta or potatoes.
4. If you are breast feeding continue to do so. If you are formula feeding, continue to give full strength formula.
You should call the office if :
1. The diarrhea last more than 24 hours in spite of giving the rehydration solution and feeding the BRAT diet.
2. The diarrhea gets worse rather than better after 24 hours.
3. Your child shows signs of dehydration such as poor urine output, sunken eyes, no tears when crying, extreme thirst or unusual drowsiness or fussiness.

The information provided above is offered as a community service about health-care issues and is not a substitute for individual consultation. Advice on individual problems should be obtained from your personal physician. This information is based on research by the author and represents his interpretation of the literature.

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Readers may send questions to our email address. This column is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional or medical advice.

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