Many parents start to tremble when it starts he coldbecause that is synonymous with snotcough and fever throughout the winter. But they forget about others diseases that are very common during the cold months, specifically, acute gastroenteritis.
Behind this digestive pathology are rotavirus, the most common cause of acute childhood gastroenteritis in children under five years of age worldwide. And as he warns Dr. Javier Mirandahead of the Pediatric Unit of the hospitals Vithas Valencia October 9 and Vithas Castellón, this viral gastroenteritis doubles in winterbecause of the cold.
And it is that, in the closed environments of which is most used during the winter season, the chances of contagion increase considerably.
A mild pathology, but very common during winter
According to Dr. Miranda
“In winter, viruses circulate, such as astrovirus or the rotavirus. In fact, the latter is usually the most frequent cause of episodes of diarrhea in children under 5 years of age.
“But we must not forget that a percentage of these episodes have a bacterial origin (Salmonella wave Shigella For example) that greatly affect the general condition of the child with abdominal pain, fever even blood in the stool. In some of these cases with bacterial origin, antibiotic treatment is necessary.”
The pediatric specialist points out that the childhood diarrhea They are one of the most frequent consultations in pediatric services during the winter months.
And although In most cases it is usually a disorder that is not seriousthe truth is It is important to visit a specialist to prescribe the appropriate treatment when they cause abdominal pain, fever or vomiting.
This is especially important in the case of younger children, under 5 years old, since, If left untreated, gastroenteritis can cause dehydration and an imbalance in the body.
During the visit to the pediatrician, the specific cause of the child’s diarrhea will be studied, because:
“Diarrhea is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of an infection caused by:
Even due to intolerance to some foods that modify intestinal transit.
For this reason, it is important to know its origin to prescribe the correct treatment.”
“Normally diarrhea in a child can be controlled and improves in a few days. But If not treated properly, it can cause serious consequences as the dehydration”warns the expert.
Replenish lost fluids
In addition to visiting the specialist, parents should know that When faced with childhood gastroenteritis, the main thing is to replace the fluids that the child loses through vomiting or diarrhea. so that the body is hydrated again.
But how do you know that the child is dehydrating?
Well, Dr. Miranda points out that there are a series of symptoms that indicate this:
“It may happen that I cry without tears
Have sunken eyes
Cold or sweaty skin
Let him be irascible and sad.
Given these symptoms, immediate consultation with a doctor is necessary.
As the professional explains, “the minerals that must be restored are sodium and potassium. The child should start eating and drinking from the first moment, but slowly and in small quantitiesespecially drink slowly and in small sips water or seruml, avoiding all drinks such as packaged juices, smoothies, sugars and soft drinks or isotonic drinks since they can have the opposite effect due to the large amount of sugar they have.
Alteration of intestinal flora
But not only dehydration, diarrhea caused by Gastroenteritis also has another consequence and is the imbalance in the intestinal flora..
“The intestinal mucosa must be recovered so that an alteration of the immune system does not occur.low absorption of nutrients or reduced protection against pathogens,” says the pediatrician.
To avoid this, “the ideal is give probiotics made from some strain of microorganisms, such as lactobacilli, Bacillus clausii and Saccharomyces among others,” explains the expert.
Basic guidelines to prevent gastroenteritis
As the pediatrician points out, rotavirus is a very contagious and quite resistant virus, which makes it when the child suffers from gastroenteritis and even though hygienic precautions are taken, a large part of the family is infected.
And according to the Spanish Society of Pediatrics, Between 30 and 50% of adults in contact with an infected child become infected, although asymptomatically.
Despite everything, it is better to take the necessary measures to avoid contagion, insisting above all on the hand washing with soap and water in the family environment, which has proven to be a very effective practice for prevention, since reduces its incidence by more than 40%.
“Preventing gastroenteritis at home is key offering children:
A balanced diet
Cook meat, chicken and fish thoroughly
Wash vegetables and fruits well
And do the same with the utensils and surfaces used to prepare raw meat, chicken or fish.”