What is Gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestine. The inflammation may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection and is characterized by general discomfort, loss of appetite, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Diarrhea among children is characterized by and increased frequency of stools and increased release of loose, watery stool. Frequent diarrhea stool accompanied by vomiting and decreased fluid intake will lead to dehydration.

Signs of Dehydration

  • Decreased urine production
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry mucus membranes (dry mouth)
  • Decreased skin elasticity
  • Lack of tears
  • Apathy, Lethargy

What Happens During Hospitalization?
During the course of hospitalization stool samples will be collected to test for presence of bacteria or virus. The treatment is aimed at symptomatic relief of the vomiting and diarrhea as well as the correction of dehydration. In some cases of bacterial diarrhea the treating physician may choose to administer antibiotics. Degree of dehydration may demand IV fluid treatment.

What Should You Do?
The parents will be requested to report each episode of diarrhea stool to the healthcare team. Parents are required to abide by the following requirements for hygiene:

  • Don isolation gown and gloves for diaper changes (supplied by department nurse)
  • Diaper and gloves will be disposed of in the proper receptacle (in patient’s room)
  • Remove isolation gown
  • Soiled clothing, linens will be disposed of in designated laundry receptacle (in patient’s room)
  • After every exposure to stool wash hands with soap and water and then disinfect with antiseptic wash (in patient’s room)
  • It is suggested to use hand cream after application of disinfectant to prevent drying and chaffing of skin
  • After proper hand hygiene practice has been observed parents may handle food or other items

The most important aspect of contagion containment is effective, immediate hand hygiene using soap and water.

Food and Drink
Your child will receive intravenous fluid therapy until they are able to eat or drink adequately. The aim of IV fluid therapy is to correct and/or prevent dehydration. This treatment will be discontinued as soon as your child’s oral intake increases and/or the diarrhea decrease. As your child begins to drink the preferred fluids are a specially prepared solution (to replenish sugars and electrolytes) or teas, with a gradual reintroduction of solid foods. If the diarrhea has been present for just a short time (day) your child may start to eat regularly immediately. In cases where the diarrhea has been present for longer the introduction of solid foods should be more gradual. A bland diet should consist of soy milk, mashed bananas, mashed potatoes, rice and bread. A dietician will guide you throughout the hospitalization as well as providing guidance pertaining to food intake.

Parents are requested to inform the nursing staff the child’s intake to thorough follow up on the child’s nutritional needs.

In order to prevent causing additional diarrhea, it is preferred to measure temperature via the axilla (underarm) and not via the rectum.

Skin Care
Repeated diarrhea stools may cause skin rash/breakdown in the diaper area. It is recommended to use a petroleum based cream to prevent excoriation. If skin irritation continues please notify the nurse.