As a parent, I know that we all strive to do everything we can to keep our children happy and healthy. But, as a pediatrician, I see every day the mistakes well-intentioned parents make when it comes to treating stomach flu and the dehydration it can cause. Now, a new survey of moms has revealed the top 5 myths about how to spot and help prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting.
MYTH 1: Any liquid can prevent and treat dehydration in children with diarrhea and vomiting.
MYTH 2: The best way to hydrate a child is to have them quickly drink as much fluid as possible
MYTH 3: It’s O.K. to wait a while before giving liquids after a child has had diarrhea and vomiting
MYTH 4: It takes several episodes of diarrhea with vomiting for an infant to become dehydrated
MYTH 5: It’s easy for a mom to tell if her child is dehydrated
Sports drinks, sweetened sodas, and juices don't meet medical guidelines for helping prevent dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting in children. These drinks are high in sugar, which can actually make diarrhea worse, and don’t contain the proper amounts of the vital minerals lost when your child is sick.
Instead of these sweet drinks, or even water, moms should be giving their kids an oral electrolyte solution, like Pedialyte®, when they have diarrhea and vomiting because they are specially formulated with the right balance of sugar, sodium and potassium your kids need. It’s best to consistently give your child small sips of an oral electrolyte solution (not gulps— drinking too much can lead to more vomiting and, therefore, more dehydration!), rather than waiting several hours. Kids can become dehydrated much more quickly than you think and staying ahead of it can help keep your child from getting sicker. Even one bout of diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration in an infant, because they have far less water reserves than adults or older children. Giving your child one teaspoon of an oral electrolyte solution every five minutes is enough to keep a them hydrated (always check with your doctor about the proper usage and dose of Pedialyte for your child).
If you are one of the 98% of moms that are unable to correctly identify all the signs of dehydration, go to www.pedialyte.com/survivalguide to download “Moms Stomach Flu Survival Guide.” I collaborated with the folks at Pedialyte to develop this handy guide, which includes all the essential information you need to prepare for, help prevent, and help manage diarrhea and vomiting when these symptoms hit your home.
NOTE: Call the pediatrician if your child has diarrhea for more than 24 hours, has both diarrhea and vomiting, has a high fever, severe abdominal pain or blood in stool or vomit, or shows signs of dehydration.
About Sandy Chung, M.D.
Sandy Chung, M.D. is a mom of four, pediatrician, blogger and author of Dr. Sandy's Top to Bottom Guide to Your Newborn: Answers to Questions Every New Parent Asks. She is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics She is a paid spokesperson for Pedialyte, collaborating with them to educate parents on dehydration and to develop a stomach flu survival guide for moms.