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Stomach Flu Outbreak: How to Cope

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A nasty stomach bug is making the rounds. Several outbreaks across the country this month have prompted schools in some states to temporarily close. Early this month, a Michigan school canceled classes to have a cleaning crew disinfect the entire building after a whooping 120 students and 8 teachers called in sick.  

Though commonly known as the stomach flu, the proper term for the condition is viral gastroenteritis. Telltale symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes accompanied with headache, fever, and stomach cramps. The stomach flu is highly contagious, and is quickly passed from person to person through close contact (which explains how it can easily spread through an entire school in a matter of a few days.)

What can you do if your kiddo catches the stomach bug?

The biggest concern is preventing dehydration, a serious side effect of lost fluids caused by persistent vomiting and diarrhea. Pediatrician Dr. William Sears suggests giving your child small sips of white grape juice or oral electrolyte solutions like Pedialyte.

Once the vomiting and stomach pains have subsided for eight hours, Dr. Sears suggests feeding your child small portions of bland foods—things like crackers, bananas, boiled potatoes, toast, broth, and yogurt.

Keep watch for the warning signs of dehydration, which include:

  • dry eyes, skin, or mouth
  • less frequent urination (half as often as usual)
  • dark-yellow urine
  • no tears when crying
  • dry diapers and sunken eyes (for babies)

The best way to avoid catching the stomach flu? No surprise here: frequent hand-washing. Check out mom-tested hand-washing tricks for kids!

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