Norovirus and Young Children

It’s one thing to come down with norovirus, (otherwise known as the stomach bug) yourself, but when it’s your kid, it’s worse. However, with the highly contagious virus affecting more than 23 million people in America alone, chances are your little angel will catch norovirus at some point. Therefore, as the awesome parent that you are, you’ll want to educate yourself on how you can prevent your children from getting norovirus, as well as what to do if he or she does get it.

Monitor for dehydration

Norovirus is the most common gastrointestinal viruses around. If you’ve got a kid having severe stomach cramps, throwing up, and/or having diarrhea, there’s a good chance he’s got norovirus. Though the symptoms only last one to two days, it’s important to monitor young children closely so that they do not become dehydrated.

More than 70,000 people end up in the hospital each year with norovirus. It’s not so much the vomiting and diarrhea that gets them there; it’s dehydration. Children that catch norovirus will most commonly vomit repeatedly, and some will have vomiting and diarrhea. The danger for young children and norovirus is dehydration, which at the extreme level can lead to death.

How to hydrate young children

Should your child come down with norovirus, evident by throwing up and/or diarrhea, you must keep him hydrated. Should he be running a fever or you have any other concerns, take him to the doctor for evaluation. Otherwise, if you know that it’s “the stomach bug”, give your child frequent sips of fluids like water and Pedialyte. For infants and toddlers, Pedialyte is your best bet, along with formula or breast milk, as it will help restore fluids and electrolytes that are lost through vomiting or diarrhea. Gatorade oftentimes appeals to older children, as well as popsicles for those who are resistant to drinks. There are even rehydration solutions for infants and children in the form of ice cubes that they can suck on.

Signs of dehydration

Contact a medical professional such as your pediatrician immediately if you notice signs of dehydration in your child. Symptoms include:

  • No tears when crying
  • Very tired
  • Dry mouth
  • Decrease in urination
  • In babies, a soft spot that is sunken can be a sign of dehydration

It’s vital to monitor babies and young children closely for dehydration. Babies are not able to let you know how they’re feeling or even that they are thirsty. It’s up to you to keep tabs on their liquid intake and symptoms. Should you have any concerns, consult a doctor immediately.

Because norovirus is so contagious, if your child catches it, keep him home from the daycare or school for at least three days after symptoms have subsided. Additionally, be sure to wash your hands and his hands thoroughly after every bathroom use and wash laundry in hot water. Frequent hand washing and cleaning and sanitizing high traffic areas in the home will help norovirus from spreading to others in the family.