Parents sometimes find themselves in a dilemma as to whether they should take their kid to a doctor when the child suffers a mild upset stomach, a situation often faced after family gatherings and reunion dinners.
Well, if the elders are concerned that the children are really feeling unwell, they would be justified in rushing the kids to the doctor.
That said, the elders need to bear in mind some basic health facts before seeking medical attention.
Stomach ache and diarrhea are common gastrointestinal problems in children.
Stomach ache is a subjective description given by the patient, from which parents can only try to assess the seriousness of the case.
Common characteristics of stomach ache caused by viral gastroenteritis or dyspepsia are:1. stomach pain occurs around the navel;2. the pain might be not exactly fixed;3. children would complain about the pain but they would not be seen curled up;4. the stomach pain should not be too severe that could wake children up in the middle of the night; and5. the stomach should not be too bloated.
The above-mentioned signs are caused by an irregular intestinal motility, which also gives rise to stomach pain.
Meanwhile, parents should stay alert when they encounter the following signs:1. the children are in intense pain that they curl up their body;2. the pain cause troubled sleeping;3. the stomach becomes too bloated.
As for diarrhea, frequent passing of watery or loose poo would be expected. If there are no symptoms of dehydration — excessive loss of water in the poo, it is safe to take a day or two for further observation. The increased episodes of diarrhea suggest that what has been taken into the body are being rejected by the digestive system.
Generally speaking, the situation would improve within 12 to 48 hours.
On top of monitoring the condition, parents could give their children simple food for easy digestion, electrolyte drinks for liquid compensation, and reduce the intake of high-fiber items.
If the situation lasts for two or three days, or becomes worse, parents should immediately take the children to their family doctor for medical advice.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 28.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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