Treatments and homecare
If you or your child has been diagnosed with rotavirus, he or she isn’t likely to prescribe a specific medicine to treat an infection. He or she will, however, recommend medicines to help alleviate or treat specific symptoms.
Antiviral or antibiotics may not be necessary. Antibiotics are only helpful when treating bacterial infections, not viruses. Anti-diarrhoeal medications aren’t usually recommended for a rotavirus infection either, but probiotics (bacteria that can help maintain the natural balance of organisms or microflora in the intestinal tract) may be recommended for a young child.
The most effective way to treat, and protect against further dehydration, is to drink plenty of fluids. In most instances a rotavirus infection will run its course and clear within 3 to 8 days.
In the case of mild dehydration, over-the-counter oral rehydration solutions can help replenish the body. Rehydration fluids often replace lost minerals more effectively than plain water or other liquids.
Before giving a young child any rehydration solution, check with your doctor or pharmacist first. Sometimes over-the-counter solutions do not have the proper balance of nutrients and electrolytes for small children.
In more severe cases of dehydration, hospitalisation may be necessary for treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids.
In the case of babies and small children, it is important to not only alleviate or prevent dehydration, but also keep them as comfortable as possible. Comfortably-fitted clothing and frequently changing nappies (diapers) or underpants as needed will help to prevent other problems such as nappy rash.
It is recommended that along with drinking plenty of fluids, you consume (or feed your child) bland foods such as crackers and toast. This will help to alleviate any stress on an already sensitive digestive system. It is best to avoid foods or liquids which aggravate symptoms of diarrhoea such as apple juice, dairy products, caffeine, alcohol or highly seasoned and sugary foods. Nicotine will also aggravate symptoms.
Sucking on ice chips and small sips of water or clear drinks (such as ginger ale or broths) can help alleviate dehydration symptoms.
Moms who are breastfeeding or giving their child formula should be able to continue normally by offering small amounts of liquid at a time. It is not recommended to dilute your baby’s formula, but it can help to offer a small amount of oral rehydration (approved by your medical health professional) to help replenish the body.
A follow-up with your primary physician (or specialist if you or your child has been referred to one) may be recommended to ensure improvement of the symptoms experienced. If an infection results in severe dehydration, and a person or child cannot tolerate oral liquids (can’t keep anything down) or has been admitted to hospital for treatment, a medical professional may request a follow-up.