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Gastro - a tummy bug

gastro; gastroenteritis; tummy; stomach; vomit; vomiting; poo; diarrhoea; runny; nauseated; nausea;


What is gastro?

Gastro, or gastroenteritis (gas-tro-en-ter-eye-tus) to give it the full title, is the name we give to an illness which causes vomiting and diarrhoea (runny poo).
Being really sick with gastro is often caused by a virus but it can be caused by bacteria.


What is it like?

Someone who has gastro may have the following symptoms.

  • I'm sickCramping pains in the abdomen (tummy).
  • Feeling really nauseous (sick) (say nor-see-us).
  • Throwing up (vomiting).
  • Diarrhoea (say di-uh-ree-a) - when you have to keep dashing to the loo, (dunny, toilet, lavatory or whatever you call it at your place) because you have to pass a lot of runny poo many times.
  • Feeling hot, then cold, then hot again.
  • Feeling shivery and weak.
  • Feeling really horrible for a couple of days.

How do you get it?

Gastro is contagious (say con-tay-jus) - that means you get it from another person.

  • You may get it from something that the other person's poo is on – maybe they did not wash their hands well enough after they went to the toilet and they touched something that you touched afterwards. You then carried the germs on your hands to your mouth.
  • It may be that a person with gastro coughed or sneezed on you.
  • It may be from your food that has been touched by someone who hasn't washed their hands.
    wash your hands before touching food

How can you protect yourself and others?

  • wash your handsAlways wash your hands after you go to the toilet even if you feel well. Use running water and soap. Use a clean paper towel to dry them or a hand dryer, or at home use a clean dry towel. 
  • Make sure that things that a person with gastro handles are washed, and that you wash your hands if you have had to touch something that might have their germs on.
  • Make sure that people who have gastro do not prepare food for you or for others.
  • Do not go to school if you have gastro.
  • If you go for a trip overseas be careful about what you eat. In some countries they do not have the same strict rules about food and food handling as we do in Australia. Your parent or the person you are travelling with can check this out with your local clinic, the travel agent, your doctor or on-line at 'Smartraveller' - the Australian Government's travel website.

What you can do

rest - not too far away from the bathroomIf you are throwing up then you may feel a little better when you have vomited everything that is in your stomach. 

  • Don't eat anything for a while – you might vomit that food up again too. You probably won't feel like eating anything for a while anyway. Start eating again when you start to feel hungry.
  • Have lots of small drinks often or suck ice cubes often. Your parents or carers could have a look at the topic Gastroenteritis for more ideas about what drinks to give to you. They may give you a special oral rehydration drink (say ree-hi-dray-shun). This is something that you can buy from a pharmacy. It will replace some of the good things you lost while you were vomiting or had runny poo!
  • Rest, not too far away from the bathroom!
  • Wash your hands very carefully after you have vomited or done runny poo – you don't want to give the germs to someone else.
  • Stay away from other kids so you can't pass it on to them.
  • Make sure that other people in your family wash their hands very well too so they don't catch the germs from you.

feeling betterWhen you have stopped throwing up you can have bigger drinks of water or other drinks.

  • You can then have a bit of food, like toast or cracker biscuits and wait to see what happens.
  • If that stays down then you can slowly start to eat again.
  • Take it easy at first, eat just a little food and stick with plain foods that can easily be digested, eg. pears, noodles or rice.
  • Gradually try other foods over the next few days until you feel better.

Dr Kate says

Dr KateIt is important to try and keep some water going into your body when you have gastro. Getting dehydrated can make you feel sicker.

So, don't forget to have lots of small drinks or ice cubes and wash those hands really carefully. You don't want to make other people in your family get sick. (Not even an annoying brother or sister?? Just kidding! )

Often people who have gastro lose a bit of weight because they can't eat normally for a couple of days. Don't worry – you will put that weight back on as soon as you can eat normally again.

If you are not getting any better it's a good idea for the person who looks after you to have a talk with a doctor.

feeling a little green!!

I'm feeling kind of queasy
drinking waterMy tummy feels quite -- sad.
My head is feeling achey,
I think that this is -- bad.
I try to take my mind off
The sickness that I feel.
But have to run quite quickly
And at the dunny kneel.
Oh no! now I need to turn
Around the other way.
My body's getting rid of germs 
From both my ends today!
Mum comes to hold my head
As round and round it goes.
She holds a bowl as well
Right underneath my nose.
I think that is the last of it
As I stagger to my bedsucking on ice cubes
I rinse my mouth with water
And wish that I was dead.
Uh oh, here we go again
I'm feeling pretty rough.
Mum says I have a weak stomach
But, I'm chucking far enough!
I'm sipping at my water
I'm sucking ice in cubes.
I think that I'm ok now
With very empty tubes!
(Just had a thought. Isn't it odd that when you throw up there are always carrots…even if you haven't eaten any!!)

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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