Gastroenteritis - Monsoon Bane for Children
Monsoon is upon us and some health-threatening infections, especially for young children, have peaked due to the heat and humidity.
The much-awaited rain may seem refreshing after the excruciating summer heat, but it also carries the risk of bacterial and viral infections among children, which could turn out to be an unpleasant monsoon for you if you don’t take the necessary precautions.
Heavy rainfall negatively affects water quality. Rainwater contaminates water sources with feces filled with bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and other microorganisms.
Waterborne protozoa, including Cryptosporidium species and Giardia, are so ubiquitous that they can be found in drinking water supplies after treatment. When children come into contact with contaminated water, they are more likely to develop intestinal-related illnesses, most notably gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis is a common intestinal disease in children that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract due to exposure to bacteria, viruses, or parasites through contaminated food, water, or direct contact. The problem may cause symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, or both. In some cases, this is accompanied by fever, abdominal cramps, or poor appetite, leading to even dehydration.
In most cases, it is caused by viruses, then bacteria and parasites can enter the human body through air, water, and food. Because it is contagious, children can get it from other children who have it or have been exposed to it.
Furthermore, the viral transmission of gastroenteritis is attributed to fecal-oral transmission, which refers to the spread of the virus from an infected person’s diarrheal stool (feces) through the mouth to the digestive tract of another person. This occurs when children do not practice good hand hygiene and come into contact with children and/or their caregivers who have diarrhea. In addition, sneezing and spitting can also spread viral gastroenteritis.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis in children
Children with gastroenteritis may experience a combination of one or more of the following symptoms:
- Less appetite
Ways to prevent gastroenteritis in children
Vaccines are available to treat rotavirus infection: In addition to vaccines, the following practices can help reduce the risk of disease during the rainy season:
- Breastfeeding is the best way to prevent gastroenteritis in infants. But of course, breastfeeding should ensure proper hygienic conditions.
- Make sure your child consumes fresh homemade food, as it’s much healthier than junk food and is easier to digest.
- Practice good hand hygiene when changing diapers.
- When children are old enough to understand instructions, teach them to wash their hands well and follow your advice to avoid contaminated water and improperly stored food.
- Make sure they don’t consume anything beyond your caution, especially during monsoons.
- You can reduce your children’s risk of illness during the rainy season by not allowing them to participate in recreational sports like swimming in public water.
- Dehydration can make matters worse for children who are at risk of gastroenteritis. You can prevent this by encouraging them to regularly consume fluids and hydrating drinks such as softened coconut water, lime water with salt and sugar, and low-fat buttermilk.
- Avoid consumption of fruit juices during diarrohea, as it increases the frequency of stools due to its increased sugar content.
- Exposure to birds, reptiles, or amphibians may increase the risk of intestinal-related conditions because they may harbor salmonella bacteria, which you should try to avoid.
When to call your pediatrician?
If your child is having a high fever, less frequent urination, can’t drink for several hours, blood in the poo or vomit, diarrhea that doesn’t get better after a few days, show signs of dehydration, including dry mouth, feeling very sleepy or less alert, crying with little or no tears, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, or vomiting for more than 24 hours.