Could Your Child’s Diarrhea Be an Adenoviral Infection?

Adenoviral infection, a very contagious ailment that generally affects children, is responsible for about ten percent of acute respiratory infections in children, and is often accompanied by severe diarrhea. The virus can infect the membranes of the respiratory tract, eyes, intestines or urinary tract.

Infants and young kids are more apt to contract the disease than adults. Since the disease is so contagious it’s often found at day care centers and schools. The infection can be passed along any time of the year but children are more likely to catch it from late winter to early summer. Other cases occur when contagious kids go swimming with others, in pools or lakes.

Most kids have experienced adenoviral infection sometime in their life, even if parents or doctors were unaware of the actual disease. There are many different types of adenovirus so repeat infections are commonplace.

Signs and symptoms of the childhood disease can range depending upon which part of the body has been affected by the virus. Infection of the respiratory tract, along with fever, are the most common symptoms. These can be accompanied by other flu-like symptoms. Sore throat, runny nose, coughing, swollen lymph nodes and middle ear infection are also likely.

Gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, can also be present, including diarrhea, vomiting, fever, headache and/or abdominal cramps. Urinary tract infect is another common symptom, causing frequent urination, burning or pain during urination, and blood in the urine.

Adenoviral infection can often affect the eyes. Pinkeye, frequent tearing, or feeling like there’s something in the eye are some signs that the eyes have been infected. Pharyngoconjunctival fever is often detected, along with the virus, and has symptoms like red eyes, sore throat, fever and swollen lymph nodes.

The disease is highly contagious and can be passed along by sneezing and coughing, poor hygiene, eating food where flies have landed, or even after handling dirty diapers. Small kids can pass the disease along by holding hands or touching things that an infected child has touched. Symptoms will develop between two days and two weeks from being exposed.

A true diagnosis can be found by allowing the doctor to take a stool specimen, a blood test or a urine sample. Although the disease itself usually doesn’t warrant hospitalization, dehydration, resulting from lack of liquids during this time, is possible. Since antibiotics won’t help, the best thing you can do is to encourage the child to rest as much as possible and take in plenty of liquids. The body will generally rid itself of the virus, over time.

Check with your doctor before giving your child any non-prescription medications. Do not give aspirin, but check with your physician to see if acetaminophen can be given. Adenoviral infection usually lasts from a few days to a week but can last longer if the respiratory infection is severe.

Although there is no way to prevent the illness you can reduce the possibilities of getting the disease by making sure the children wash hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom. Keep surfaces clean and disinfect toys and other shared items.

Call the doctor if the fever persists for more than a few days, if symptoms seem to worsen, if the child is having difficulty breathing, if the child is under three months of age, or if the child shows signs of dehydration, like lack of energy, seldom urinating, or very dry mouth.

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