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School Germs and Your Child’s Health

Children and Viruses: Stomach Bugs continued...

2. Reintroduce Foods Slowly Into Their Diet

Once your children have gone six hours without vomiting, offer them some food. If they're not interested, don't force it. Just try again later.

Start with bland foods, but experts recommend returning to a normal diet within 24 hours if possible.Just keep the portions small -- it's often the volume of the food that upsets the stomach.

Fat in food can also help with diarrhea. Fat takes longer to digest, so it can slow down your child's system. However, continuing to eat a bland, fat-free diet for days on end could prolong diarrhea.

"I sometimes see kids with ongoing diarrhea after a virus," says Rosh. "They think I'm a genius when I tell them to go eat some ice cream and drink some milk and they get better."

3. Use Over-the-Counter Medicine With Care

Some medicines designed to settle stomachs and stop diarrhea are FDA-approved for children. OTC medicines such as Imodium and Kaopectate 1-D, containing the drug loperamide, are approved for children age 6 and over. Regular Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate, containing bismuth subsalicylate, are approved for kids 12 and older. Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate contain aspirin-like ingredients and should not be used in children with chicken pox or flu-like symptoms because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but serious illness. Children’s Pepto-Bismol does not have aspirin-like ingredients and can help settle stomachs but does not contain medicine to stop diarrhea.

It's a good idea to check with a doctor before using these medicines in a child of any age. Drugs that stop diarrhea could be dangerous if your child has a bacterial infection in the intestines. These medicines could prevent the body from flushing out the bacteria. If your child has signs of infection, like a fever or bloody stools, do not use these medicines and call a doctor.

Also, medicines that contain bismuth subsalicylate, like aspirin, pose a small risk of Reye's syndrome in kids. If your child or teenager has recently had a flu or chickenpox, avoid those drugs.

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