Thursday, January 19, 2017

Surviving the Stomach Bug

We made it over a year without a round of the stomach bug in our house, but...the jig is up.  As awful as it is, at least we know what we're doing now and can hopefully prevent it spreading to the rest of the family!  I got a call from school this morning that C was sick, so I made a quick stop by CVS on my way to pick him up to pick up the missing supplies in our go-to stomach bug arsenal:

CVS-brand Dye-Free Strawberry Pediatric Electrolyte (aka generic Pedialyte)

I'm not sure why, but the actual Pedialyte brand does not make a flavored (strawberry/grape/whatever) version that is dye-free.  C is not interested in drinking the unflavored variety, which is the only dye-free version that Pedialyte makes, and since the whole point is to ensure he stays hydrated...I buy the flavored kind.  The flavored Pedialyte brand products are all dyed purple or pink, and when I have a pukey kiddo, the last thing I need is dye making the clean-up/stain removal process even harder.


Bland, starchy, easy on the stomach.  I think toast or saltines are the more conventional choices, but C isn't interested in eating those.  When he was a baby, I used puffs as our stomach bug starch of choice, but now it's plain Cheerios.

Applesauce Pouches

Another easy-on-the-stomach (and hydrating) food to try once it seems like his little stomach can handle some food.  These are from Costco, but they sell them pretty much everywhere now.  Normally, I buy the single-serve applesauce cups for snacks (since they are cheaper), but for stomach bugs, I buy applesauce pouches.    It's one less utensil contaminated with stomach bug germs, and they're mess-free for him to eat on his little sick-bed pallet on the floor.

Bleach solution

I learned this the hard way with the first stomach bug that ravaged our house -- many "disinfecting" products do not kill norovirus, which is the common culprit of stomach bugs.  Lysol and Clorox wipes, as convenient as they are, do NOT kill norovirus.  The spray version of Lysol says it kills stomach bugs, but the surface has to remain wet for 5 minutes for it to be effective, and the fine aerosol Lysol mist usually dries before that. 

The best bet is plain old bleach, diluted with water in a spray bottle.  I use "concentrated" household bleach and a ratio of 1 part bleach to 20 parts water (I generally use 1 tablespoon of bleach to 20 tablespoons, or 1.25 cups, of water).  Bleach deteriorates over time, so if your bleach is old, you might consider investing in a new bottle for maximum effectiveness - bleach is cheap!  I spray this on EVERY hard surface that may have been touched, breathed on, or vomited on - floors, counters, cabinets, light switches, TV remotes, door handles, toilets, tubs, sinks, toys, etc.  Again, you want to make sure the bleach solution has ~5 minutes to work its magic, so I douse things with the solution -- it's not a light spray, I make sure the surface is totally wet.  If it's something that will come in direct contact with food or someone's mouth, I rinse with water (AFTER the solution has dried) before using it to eat or drink.

Since the bleach solution can't be used on fabrics or other soft surfaces, I try to minimize the contact C has with non-washable soft surfaces (e.g., area rugs, carpet, furniture).  I make him a pallet on the floor of multiple layers of blankets and/or towels to try to contain the contaminated area....that way, I can throw them all in the washer (on hot! Maximum length cycle! and machine dry!) along with any clothes, stuffed animals, rags, or other bedding, if they get soiled.  I make his pallet setup directly in front of the TV to entice him to stay on it (a a kid who gets very little screen time, he will stay glued to the TV on sick days!)

I'm crossing my fingers that this stomach bug will pass quickly and that no one else will catch it!  I've heard tips on drinking 100% concord grape juice and/or raw apple cider vinegar to neutralize the virus in your stomach if you've been exposed but not yet showing those may be next on my shopping list!
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