Food Poisoning In Kids: All You Need To Know To Keep Your Kids Safe
Starting with messy diapers and endless needs of their children, parents have a lot to deal with and look out for. As if all that is not enough, there’s the very scary risk of food poisoning. Even though it lasts only a couple of days, it is as mean to kids as it is to adults. What’s worse, the best you can do is offer care and comfort. Nigerian rainy season brings in such sickness as complimentary and it becomes more important than ever for the parents to be cautious. Children engage in so many activities both at home and at school. Therefore, the risk of food poisoning in kids is very real and should be taken seriously.
What Is Food Poisoning In Kids?
Doctors often describe food poisoning as an illness that comes on quickly after your child eats contaminated food or drinks contaminated water. The child then gets diarrhea or begins to vomit some hours after the infection kicks in. Sometimes, chronic food poisoning can mean a visit to the hospital.
Children younger than 5 years have a higher chance of getting infected because their immune systems are not strong enough to combat germs yet. Because children are smaller, all the vomiting and stooling quickly takes its toll on them and may lead to dehydration. Getting dehydrated is the most common serious complication of food poisoning in children. Thankfully, food poisoning in kids usually goes away quickly, like it does in adults.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
The symptoms depend on the exact cause of food poisoning, but they include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, fever and belly cramps.
High Risk Foods Can Cause Food Poisoning
Some foods are termed high risk because they are easily contaminated. They include milk, poultry, eggs, dairy products, seafood, and water.
There is also the risk of contaminating food when you don’t wash your hands regularly or don’t encourage your children to wash their hands regularly and wash fruits and vegetables before eating them.
How To Treat Your Child
Mild cases of food poisoning soon go away and can be treated at home. Make sure the child is steadily hydrated to replace the fluids and electrolytes he has lost from all the diarrhea and vomiting. Let him rest as much as possible. Usually doctors recommend an over the counter oral re-hydration solution. Avoid fizzy drinks, milk, caffeine and juices as they may worsen the situation. If he has a fever, you could give some paracetamol.
For infants, give small amounts of whatever your baby normally takes -- breast milk or formula. You can also give your baby an electrolyte drink.
Also, don’t give your child any medicine to stop the diarrhea. It’s part of the body’s way of kicking the germs out. Anti-diarrhea medicine may make symptoms last even longer, and the side effects for kids can be serious. For children % years and under, a visit to the hospital is recommended.
Call the doctor if your child has any of these symptoms:
- Continuous vomiting over 12 hours
- diarrhea with a fever higher than 101°F (38.3°C)
- severe belly cramps that don't go away after a bowel movement
- bloody faeces (diarrhea or regular poop) or bloody vomit
- bowel movements that are black or maroon
- a racing or pounding heart
It’s also helpful if your child:
- Avoids food for the first few hours until the stomach settles down
- Eats when they feel ready, but go slow -- start with small amounts of bland, non-fatty foods such as crackers, dry cereal, toast, and rice
- Gets plenty of rest
Preventing Food Poisoning
It’s not entirely possible to protect your child from all food borne germs that can cause food poisoning in kids. However, you can greatly reduce the risk of infection by doing the following things:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water regularly. Help your children wash their hands often as well. It is very important to wash your hands after changing a diaper, cleaning up for your child, and leaving the toilet. It’s also important to wash your hands after handling raw food.
- Rinse meat, poultry, and fish thoroughly before cooking it, and wash your kitchen surfaces well afterward.
- Defrost food in the refrigerator, not on the counter-top or in the sink. Don't eat meat, poultry, or fish that has been refrigerated uncooked for more than one or two days.
- Don't use food that looks or smells unusual.
- Try not to use outdated food, packaged food that has a broken seal, or cans that are dented or misshapen.
- Avoid leaving food outside the refrigerator for more than an hour before eating or drinking it.
- Keep hot food hot and cold food cold before eating it.
- Don't give your child unpasteurized milk, juice, or cheese, or raw meat.
- Buy all meat and fish from reputable stores.
- When traveling out of the country, eat hot, freshly cooked food – not raw vegetables or unpeeled fruit – and drink only water that's been boiled.
The climate in Nigeria is a little complicated, as it varies from north to south. What can all agree on is that the weather here is humid and moist. This doesn't do much to stifle bacterial growth as it in fact aids it. Therefore, keeping high standards of hygiene cannot be overemphasized. Washing hands regularly should be a way of life. All this is important in order to further protect your children from food poisoning.