Archive for February 26th, 2008

Stomach Flu or something like it

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

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Last night, poor Debra was awakened by the need to barf. She was SO miserable, because dry heaves continued after the initial barfing episode, her head ached terribly, and she was too warm to the touch (I didn’t take her temperature, so I don’t know exactly how hot she was.). At first she couldn’t keep water down, but perhaps that was because she tried to drink too much water at a time. She was finally able this morning to keep down frequent small sips of a hydrating solution made from 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 Tablespoon sugar. She has also been able to eat two grapefruits.

Seth was home from school today with a bad sore throat, plus he was overtired because his rest had been quite disturbed during Debra’s nighttime troubles. Even so, he was the one who took care of his older sister while I was at the Middle School this morning. He made sure Deb had her drink, prepared the grapefruit for her, and read to her for hours to comfort her (Her head ached too badly and her eyes were sore, so she couldn’t read on her own.). I do so hope that Seth and the rest of us don’t get sick with this flu thing.

The thing that concerns me is that, aside from now being able to keep the water and grapefruit down, Debra is worse. Her temperature is higher (as least to the touch), her head aches terribly, and she is so weak and achy. I hear her moaning quite a bit in her sleep. If she isn’t significantly better in the morning, I’ll have to stay home to take her to the doctor, since he is only open in the morning on Wednesdays.

I always worry a bit about appendicitis when something like this happens. Appendicitis runs in families, a surgeon told me. (Two of our children so far have had an appendectomy.) I’m on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Nausea not relieved by vomiting
  • Continued fever
  • Extreme pain when walking; walking kind of hunched over, and gingerly as if walking upon egg shells
  • Pain beginning perhaps in the navel region and settling finally in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen

So, this evening I’ve been reviewing the symptoms of stomach flu, checking to see if they include all of Debra’s symptoms. So far, I think everything matches up. Here, if you’re interested, is a handy list I found on Answers.com:

(This information is from the Children’s Health Encyclopedia: Gastroenteritis, an article by Julia Barrett Angela M. Costello)

Symptoms

Gastroenteritis symptoms include nausea and vomiting, watery diarrhea, and abdominal pain and cramps. These symptoms are sometimes accompanied by bloating, low fever, chills, headache, and overall tiredness or weakness. Gastroenteritis symptoms typically last two to three days, but some viruses may last up to a week.

Infants, young children, the elderly, and anyone with an underlying disease are more vulnerable to complications of gastroenteritis. The greatest danger presented by gastroenteritis is dehydration. The loss of fluids through diarrhea and vomiting can upset the body’s electrolyte balance, leading to potentially life-threatening problems such as heart beat abnormalities (arrhythmia). The risk of dehydration increases as symptoms become prolonged. Untreated, severe dehydration can be life threatening. Dehydration should be suspected if symptoms of a dry mouth, increased or excessive thirst, or decreased urination are experienced.

When to Call the Doctor

If symptoms do not resolve within one week, an infection or disorder more serious than gastroenteritis may be involved. Prompt medical attention is required if the child has any of these symptoms:

* a high fever of 102°F (38.9°C) or above

* blood or mucus in the diarrhea

* blood in the vomit

* bloody stools or black stools

* confusion

* severe abdominal pain or swelling

* inability to keep liquids down

If a child has the following symptoms, the parent should contact the child’s pediatrician:

* diarrhea or vomiting that wakes the child during the night

* persistent or severe diarrhea or vomiting

* dehydration symptoms, including dry mouth, increased or excessive thirst, few or no tears when crying, decreased urination, dark yellow urine, irritability, low energy, lightheadedness or fainting, severe weakness, and sunken abdomen, eyes, and cheeks

* no improvement in symptoms after 36 hours

(Here is a link to a cartoon about stomach flu (if you’re interested :P). I can’t actually post the cartoon on my blog unless I pay for the right to do so, but the cartoon site says it’s OK to link to the image, which you can then click to view.)