This site is intended for healthcare professionals

Go to /sign-in page

You can view 5 more pages before signing in

Clinical assessment of child with gastroenteritis

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Suspect gastroenteritis if there is a sudden change in stool consistency to loose or watery stools, and/or a sudden onset of vomiting. The clinician should be aware that in children with gastroenteritis:

  • diarrhoea usually lasts for 5-7 days, and in most it stops within 2 weeks
  • vomiting usually lasts for 1-2 days, and in most it stops within 3 days (1)

A complete history and physical examination should be carried out to determine whether the child is dehydrated and if possible the aetiology of acute gastroenteritis (2,3)

  • duration of illness
  • the number of episodes per day
    • vomiting
      • whether vomiting is interfering with the child's ability to keep down fluids and solid food
      • type of emesis (e.g., whether bile is present)
    • diarrhoea
      • whether blood or mucus is present
  • urine output
  • the presence of blood in the stool
  • accompanying symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, and urinary complaints
  • child's mental status
  • any accompanying medical conditions
  • whether oral rehydration therapy has been attempted with any success
  • recent contact with someone with acute diarrhoea and/or vomiting and
  • exposure to a known source of enteric infection (possibly contaminated water or food) and
  • recent travel abroad (1,2,3)

Physical examination can be useful in identifying signs of dehydration e.g. - level of alertness, presence of sunken eyes, dry mucous membranes, and skin turgor

Recognise that the following are at increased risk of dehydration:

  • children younger than 1 year, particularly those younger than 6 months
  • infants who were of low birth weight
  • children who have passed more than five diarrhoeal stools in the previous 24 hours
  • children who have vomited more than twice in the previous 24 hours
  • children who have not been offered or have not been able to tolerate supplementary fluids before presentation
  • infants who have stopped breastfeeding during the illness
  • children with signs of malnutrition (1).

Reference:


Related pages

Create an account to add page annotations

Annotations allow you to add information to this page that would be handy to have on hand during a consultation. E.g. a website or number. This information will always show when you visit this page.

The content herein is provided for informational purposes and does not replace the need to apply professional clinical judgement when diagnosing or treating any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.

Connect

Copyright 2024 Oxbridge Solutions Limited, a subsidiary of OmniaMed Communications Limited. All rights reserved. Any distribution or duplication of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited. Oxbridge Solutions receives funding from advertising but maintains editorial independence.