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Children's stomach upsets

What's the best way to deal with children's stomach upsets?

Tummy upsets or stomach upsets, including diarrhoea and stomach pain, can be common in children of all ages.

A child's diarrhoea symptoms usually clear up within five days to a week, depending on what's caused it, such as food poisoning.

Diarrhoea may be due to an infection, such as gastroenteritis (‘a stomach bug’), often caused by a virus such as rotavirus.

Children should not be given anti-diarrhoea medicines. If necessary, a child can be give age-appropriate liquid paracetamol or ibuprofen.

It is important to make sure a child with diarrhoea is drinking enough water. Children have an increased risk of dehydration if they have diarrhoea, especially if they've also been sick. Avoid fruit juice or fizzy drinks which can make the diarrhoea worse.

Contact your GP or seek medical advice immediately if the child has symptoms of dehydration, including:

  • Irritability or drowsiness
  • Not urinating often
  • Pale or mottled skin
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Getting more unwell

Oral rehydration solution (ORS) may be recommended by a health professional.

Also seek medical advice if the child has:

  • Diarrhoea and vomiting at the same time
  • Very watery diarrhoea
  • Blood in diarrhoea
  • Diarrhoea lasting longer than two or three days
  • Severe or continuous stomachache

Children who’ve had a stomach upset should be kept off school or nursery until at least 48 hours after they are better.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 27, 2017

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