Information for parents and carers
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Your child has been diagnosed with gastroenteritis. This is caused by an infection in the stomach (tummy) and usually causes children to have loose or watery stools (poo) and may also cause them to vomit (be sick).
Gastroenteritis is infectious and can be caught from other people.
While suffering from gastroenteritis, hand washing and good cleanliness are very important to help stop the spread of infection.
Most children with gastroenteritis will get better quickly, without needing treatment and they can be safely looked after at home. It can last between 5 – 7 days.
Severe diarrhoea and vomiting can lead to dehydration, which is when the body does not have enough water to work as normal.
Children who are dehydrated often look and feel unwell.
Dehydration is more likely to happen in young babies. Severe dehydration can be dangerous.
See your GP or contact 111 if your child:
- Is not drinking.
- Has not passed urine (wee) in the last 12 hours.
- Has other signs of dehydration such as a dry mouth or sunken eyes.
- Is unusually sleepy.
- Has blood in their stool.
- Is unable to keep down any fluids during this illness.
You must bring your child back to the nearest Children’s and Young Person’s Emergency Department, or ring 999 immediately if your child:
- Is difficult to wake, very lethargic or becomes extremely agitated.
- Develops a rash that does not disappear with pressure (the tumbler test).
- Is very irritable or has an unusual cry.
- Unusually pale or mottled skin and feels abnormally cold to touch.
- Has blue lips or too breathless to talk/eat or drink.
- Is under 3 months of age with a temperature of 38 C (100.4F).
How long does gastroenteritis last?
- It can last between 5 – 7 days.
- Children should not return to school, nursery or childcare for 48 hours following the last episode of vomiting or diarrhoea.
How should I look after my child at home?
- Continue to offer your baby light feeds, including breast or other milk feeds.
- Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids and offer small amounts often.
- Remember to wash your hands and your child’s hands with soap and warm water before eating or drinking and after every vomit or loose stool.
- Not share towels with a child who is vomiting or has diarrhoea.
- You may be advised to give an oral rehydration solution. This is because your child will have lost a lot of fluid while by having sickness and/or diarrhoea.
The tumbler test
Do the ‘tumbler test’ if your child has a rash. This test helps to work out if your child has Meningitis.
Press a glass tumbler firmly against the rash. If you can see the spots through the glass and they do not fade this is called a ‘non-blanching rash’. If this rash is present, seek medical advice immediately.
The rash is harder to see on dark skin so check paler areas, such as palms of the hands, soles of the feet and tummy.
You know your child best. If you have any concerns, or need any further information, contact the Children’s and Young Person’s Emergency Department (see contact numbers below).
If you have any worries or concerns you should contact your GP during normal surgery hours. Outside surgery hours, you should contact your GP’s surgery for the Out of Hours Service number.
Children’s and Young Person’s Emergency Department
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Telephone: 01642 624533
Further information available
Calls to this number are free from landlines and mobile phones
When it is less urgent than 999 call 111
Information used to develop this leaflet
NICE 2009 Clinical Guideline 84, Diarrhoea and Vomiting in Children www.nice.org.uk/cg84
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
We are continually trying to improve the services we provide. We want to know what we’re doing well or if there’s anything which we can improve, that’s why the Patient Experience Team (PET) is here to help. Our Patient Experience Team is here to try to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible. The office is based on the ground floor at the University Hospital of North Tees if you wish to discuss concerns in person. If you would like to contact or request a copy of our PET leaflet, please contact:
Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:00pm
Email: [email protected]
Out of hours
Out of hours if you wish to speak to a senior member of Trust staff, please contact the hospital switchboard who will bleep the appropriate person.
Telephone: 01642 617617
Data protection and use of patient information
The Trust has developed Data Protection policies in accordance with Data Protection Legislation (UK General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All of our staff respect these policies and confidentiality is adhered to at all times. If you require further information on how we process your information please see our Privacy Notices.
Telephone: 01642 383551
Email: [email protected]Privacy Notices
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or:
Email: [email protected]
Leaflet Reference: PIL1377
Date for Review: 04/05/2025