What is stomach flu?
It is an infection with a virus or bacteria causing vomiting and diarrhoea. The infection starts mostly with sudden episodes of vomiting, which happens a few times in a road, leading to a complete emptying of the stomach contain. Very often this is followed by diarrhoea, which can present 1 to 2 days later. Additionally the children can develop high fever.
What are the complications?
The length of the disease can be different depending if the infection is caused by a virus or bacteria. Some bacteria can cause a bloody diarrhoea and the patients have to take antibiotics. With other infections like Salmonella treatment with antibiotics is contraindicated. Most of the infections are caused by rota virus, adeno virus and nova virus. The most dangerous situation can occur when patients loss too much fluid and get dehydrated. The risk of dehydration is greater in younger patients. In countries with underdeveloped health care systems high dehydration can be dangerous to patient's life.
What is the therapy?
The first line therapy is to replace the fluid loss of the body before symptoms of dehydration occur. The patient should be offered lots of fluid and this should be taken slowly in small portions of 10 to 30 ml. Is the patient vomiting 1-3 times per day or/and has 1 -3 episodes of diarrhoea per day than the risk of dehydration is low. But if the patient is unable to keep anything down than intravenous replacement therapy should be considered. In all the cases the situation of the patient should be evaluated by a paediatrician who should make the best decision about the right therapy.
When should children be treated in the hospital?
Generally all children in whom oral therapy is unsuccessful at home should be refereed to the hospital. Beside that all children who have bloody diarrhoea should be referred to the hospital because a therapy with antibiotics could be necessary. In the same time a microbiological exam of stool should be done. This is not only for treatment purposes but also because infection with Salmonella and some other bacteria need to be reported to the health department.