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Five quick tips for tummy troubles


© Dmitry Maslov |

It's GASTROENTERITIS time again, a.k.a. the dreaded stomach bug.  But there are a few things that can be done to make this illness a little less dreadful.  Here are a few quick and simple tips to help both adults and children through this difficult time.

1. DO NOT FORCE SOLID FOODS.  Unless you are a diabetic or at risk for low blood sugar, food consumption can be avoided safely for a  few days.  Even children survive without eating, provided they are normally healthy and taking fluids.  Once vomiting has subsided, resume diet with bland foods only while avoiding dairy.  It can take up to a week for appetite to return.  Kids tend to bounce back faster, but should be limited to bland foods for a day or two.

2. DO FORCE FLUIDS.  This does not mean drink gallons of liquids quickly.  The secret to avoiding dehydration is consuming small amounts of fluids frequently: roughly one teaspoon every 10-15 minutes until the vomiting subsides.  And then continue to sip to rehydrate yourself.  Gulping, even when thirsty can cause the stomach to revolt.  Parents can encourage this by filling a medicine cup. Fluids are actually absorbed very quickly and even if vomiting occurs again, something will get absorbed; and something is better than nothing at all.

3. AVOID CARBONATED DRINKS.  Though many recommend ginger ale to settle an upset stomach, it's the ginger that is helpful.  Carbonation can worsen nausea.  So, if ginger ale appeals to you, stir it to get out the extra bubbles. Better yet, microwave it with a tea bag to make ginger tea, a surefire way to beat the nausea.  Kids tend to tolerate flavored pedialyte, sports drinks and frozen pops.

4. GET PLENTY OF REST.  In today's world, we often move too fast, neglecting to take care of basic needs such as rest.  Besides, staying in bed is a surefire way to keep from spreading the germs to the rest of the world.

5. CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF THE VOMITING LASTS LONGER THAN TWO DAYS. You are going to feel lousy.  After all you are sick.  Pain around the top of your stomach is common, as is body aches and cramping from diarrhea.  Right lower quadrant abdominal pain is NOT normal and should be assessed by your regular doctor. Vomiting/diarrhea that leads to dry lips, mouth and skin should also be evaluated.  And ANYONE who has a chronic disease should always be in contact with his or her physician for proper management of their condition.

 Click on the links FOR MORE INFORMATION:  the different viruses that cause gastroenteritis, signs of dehydration in adults and children


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