What Parents Need to Know About This Nasty Stomach Flu

Is It Rotavirus?

Many pediatricians don't test for rotavirus, simply because the treatment -- except in severe cases -- is the same as it is for other tummy bugs (many of which are grouped under the name norovirus). Remember that "stomach flu" is not the same as the flu or influenza. Stomach flu affects the gastrointestinal tract, while influenza primarily affects the respiratory system.

Rotavirus

  • Symptoms: Fever, vomiting, diarrhea (usually foul-smelling), abdominal pain, dehydration
  • Treatment: Plenty of electrolyte fluids; in severe cases, may require IV fluids
  • Duration: 3 to 8 days
  • Peak Season: November through April
  • Vaccine: Oral vaccine recommended for infants at 2, 4, and 6 months

Norovirus

  • Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps
  • Treatment: Electrolyte fluids
  • Duration: 1 to 3 days
  • Peak Season: October through April
  • Vaccine: None available

Influenza

  • Symptoms: Fever, dry cough, sore throat, muscle aches; in children, may cause occasional vomiting or diarrhea
  • Treatment: Plenty of fluids, rest, acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Duration: 7 to 10 days
  • Peak Season: December through March
  • Vaccine: Annual vaccine recommended for all children between ages 6 months and 5 years, and older children with asthma and other chronic conditions

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