Your doctor will
probably diagnose your child with
rotavirus infection based on his or her symptoms. The
time of year also is an important clue. If your child has diarrhea and other
symptoms during the winter or early spring (about November through April), your
doctor will often suspect rotavirus as the cause.
A test of stool
can be done to confirm a diagnosis. This kind of test is not needed unless your
child has other health conditions that make it important to know the exact
cause of symptoms.
How is it treated?
It is most important to help
keep your child comfortable and prevent dehydration.
child as much as he or she wants. Keep your child in comfortable clothes, and
change his or her diaper or underpants as needed. Your child may get a
diaper rash. To
treat diaper rash, you may need to use warm washcloths
to wipe your child's bottom and creams to help prevent soreness. In some cases,
you may want to hold your baby and rinse his or her bottom in running bath
water to clean the area well.
Don't give your child any
over-the-counter medicines unless you've checked with
the doctor first.
To prevent dehydration, your doctor may
recommend a rehydration drink designed for babies and young children, such as
Pedialyte. This may be especially helpful if your
child's diarrhea lasts longer than a few days. Rehydration drinks help replace
electrolytes. Plain water doesn't provide necessary
nutrients or electrolytes and may not be absorbed when your child has diarrhea.
Rehydration drinks do not make diarrhea go away faster, but they can prevent
serious dehydration. For more information, see the topic Dehydration.
give your baby or young child rehydration drinks for adults or sports drinks,
such as Gatorade. These drinks do not have the proper balance of nutrients and
electrolytes for small children.
Your doctor may suggest probiotics for your child. They are bacteria that help keep the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines. For more information, see the topic Probiotics.
A baby or young child needs to be
treated in a hospital if dehydration becomes severe. Call
911 or go to the emergency room if your
baby has signs of severe dehydration, which include:
- A lack of interest in playing and extreme sleepiness. (The
child may be so sleepy that it is hard to wake him or her up.)
- A dry mouth and tongue.
- A sunken soft spot (fontanel) on top of the head.
- Sunken eyes without tears.
- Fast breathing and rapid heartbeat.
- No wet diapers (a dry diaper) for 12 or more hours.
Can I prevent my child from getting rotavirus?
It is hard to prevent your child from getting this infection. Studies show that breast-feeding may help prevent rotavirus or reduce its severity.