Fa la la la – blaaaaaghhhh?
For many families, a vile strain of the norovirus in Maryland proved to be an unwelcome surprise over the holidays – and into the New Year.
This nasty little illness, hallmarked by diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and achiness, can unfortunately run rampant among families with small or school-aged children. It received an extra boost in December courtesy of the close quarters and familial gatherings associated with the holiday season.
Also, unfortunately – because of its somewhat nebulous onset, diagnosis of norovirus in Maryland is occasionally elusive.
Wait for it…
Prior to manifesting traditional diarrhea symptoms, infants afflicted with norovirus will frequently have a prodrome of fussiness – particularly at night – resulting in tremendous stress and anxiety for parents and guardians.
Additionally, viral illnesses manifesting in younger children tend to follow a cascade of symptoms, beginning with a stuffy nose and transitioning to a sore throat. These irritations can often be misconstrued as allergies or teething or – if accompanied by a pain sensation in the ears – an ear infection, and sometimes result in a child’s erroneous treatment with antibiotics.
By the time the illness reaches a child’s gastrointestinal tract, it is frequently accompanied by rash and fever, which only contributes to concerns. This, as well as the soon-to-arrive diarrhea, are often blamed – or at least associated – with any antibiotics that may have been mistakenly prescribed. Of course, the illness eventually follows its natural course to the intestines, and then – show time.
Astute pediatric providers who are accustomed to treating children will be able to discern signs and symptoms – including intermittent fussiness and gassiness – that suggest impending diarrhea, leading to an ultimate diagnosis and the elimination of unnecessary testing and unsuccessful treatment.
A Right Time to Replenish Fluids
At KinderMender, our specialists have seen an uptick in gastroenteritis over the last two months; and with it, the aforementioned challenges that make providing for younger children slightly more complicated.
Treatment, in and of itself, can be troubling. Hydration is tantamount when attending to children with the norovirus. But how and when to hydrate is directly related to a successful recovery.
When adults are sick, we tend to lose our appetites and our energy, while our body fights off infection. Infants experience the same trends, but simply cannot express them in words. Because of this, it is important for parents to recognize and closely monitor the natural cycles of fever and lethargy that children go through as a virus spreads through the body. Oral hydration should be urged during those intervals in which children are not feeling quite so bad, while allowing for rest and recovery during those times when they are.
A return to a normal diet should be gradual, to allow for fortification of the digestive tract, otherwise diarrheal symptoms may persist. As always, evaluation by an experienced pediatric provider can be helpful in making any and all assessments related to health.
Say No to Norovirus with Soap and Water
The norovirus in Maryland has been a very un-merry blight this holiday season, and is still on the prowl throughout our schools. Prevention, though not absolute, can go a long way in warding off this ugly virus. Disinfect bathrooms and kitchens regularly, and urge all members of your family to wash hands constantly, specifically after changing diapers or using the toilet.
And if you or your children are feeling ill, but are not sure why, get to a KinderMender location today. Our pediatric specialists are well-versed in the norovirus and gastroenteritis, and will do what we can to help your family feel better faster.