Gastroenteritis is a common condition where the stomach and bowel become
inflamed. It is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
The two main symptoms of gastroenteritis are diarrhoea and vomiting. The
vomiting will usually stop within one to three days, and the diarrhoea will usually
pass within five to seven days, although it can last up to two weeks in some
children. Your child may also have some additional symptoms caused by the
infection, such as a high temperature (fever) and a tummy ache.
The most common cause of gastroenteritis in children is a virus called the
rotavirus. This virus is passed out in the stools (faeces) of someone with the
infection. It can be transferred to food, objects and surfaces if the infected person
doesn't wash their hands after going to the toilet.
The infection is usually then passed to someone else when they either eat
contaminated food or touch a contaminated object or surface and then touch
Children with diarrhoea and/or vomiting should be kept off school until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have gone. Most cases of diarrhoea and vomiting in
children get better without treatment, but if symptoms persist, contact your GP.
Most cases of gastroenteritis in
children are mild and pass
within five to seven days
without any specific treatment.
Make sure they drink plenty of
fluids, get enough rest, and are
careful with hand washing. Encourage them to eat as soon
as their vomiting is under
control. Simple foods that are
high in carbohydrates - such as
bread, rice or pasta - are
Drinking fruit juice or fizzy drinks
is not recommended, as it can
also make diarrhoea worse.
In most cases, gastroenteritis does not need
to be diagnosed, as the illness usually goes
away without treatment. However, you
should see your GP if your child:
Shows signs of dehydration, or has an
increased risk of dehydration.
Has a temperature of 39°C (102.2°F) or
Has been vomiting for longer than three
days or has had diarrhoea for more than
Has blood or mucus in their stools.
Has abnormally rapid breathing.
Has a stiff neck.
Has a blotchy red rash, which, unlike most
other rashes, does not fade when you put
a glass against it.
Has recently been abroad.
Has a weakened immune system caused
by an underlying health condition, such as
acute leukaemia, or as a side effect of a
medical treatment, such as chemotherapy.
If your GP is unavailable, contact your local
out-of-hours service or NHS 111 for advice.
Source: www.nhs.uk/conditions 2015