Symptoms and Diagnosis


Dr. Patel
Gastroenteritis in children most often causes vomiting, but it can also cause diarrhea. Captain Darin, what else can you tell us about symptoms of gastroenteritis?

Captain Darin
Well, Dr. Patel, in many cases, a child with a stomach bug will have either vomiting or diarrhea, but some children get both at the same time. These are the body's natural attempts to expel the germs causing infection in the digestive tract. Once the body has successfully cleared the invading germs, which usually takes about 24 hours, these symptoms improve.

Other symptoms that commonly accompany vomiting or diarrhea include nausea, abdominal pain, and fever. Sometimes these symptoms come in "waves" that precede the child's need to throw up or use the toilet.

Severe infections can cause more serious symptoms, but these are uncommon in children. These symptoms can include:

  • Bloody stool or bloody vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Changes in vision
  • Weakness
  • Muscle paralysis, or
  • Hallucinations

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your child's provider right away or take your child to the nearest emergency room.

Dehydration is a potential problem, even with mild cases of gastroenteritis. Vomiting and diarrhea cause the body to lose a lot of fluids, and those fluids need to be replenished as much as possible. Severe dehydration may require hospitalization.