Because there is no medicine that will kill rotavirus, the goal is to manage the symptoms while the body fights the infection. One of the most important aspects of treating rotavirus involves keeping the body hydrated. Other suggestions include getting plenty of rest, eating bland foods, and avoiding caffeine until the infection has passed.
There is no medicine that will kill rotavirus. Therefore, treatment goals for rotavirus are focused on providing supportive care while the body fights the rotavirus. Supportive care refers to treating symptoms, such as dehydration, that can occur as a result of the rotavirus infection.
Fortunately, for people with healthy immune systems, the body is able to effectively kill rotavirus, and after 3 to 9 days, rotavirus symptoms usually improve.
Your body needs fluids to function. Dehydration is the loss of fluids from the body. Important salts or minerals, known as electrolytes, can also be lost with the fluids. Dehydration can be caused by:
- Excessive urination
- Excessive sweating
- Not drinking enough fluids because of nausea, difficulty swallowing, or loss of appetite.
With a rotavirus infection, the combination of diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration.
The symptoms of dehydration are:
- Excessive thirst
- Dry mouth
- Little or no urine (or dark yellow urine)
- Decreased tears
- Severe weakness or lethargy
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
Children present special concerns. Because of their smaller body size, infants and children are at greater risk of dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting.
Giving special fluids by mouth (called oral rehydration therapy) is the most effective rotavirus treatment to prevent dehydration. Oral rehydration solutions, such as Pedialyte®, can replace lost fluids, minerals, and salts. Special fluids used for oral rehydration can be found in most pharmacies or grocery stores and can be purchased without a prescription.
Parents of children with severe diarrhea should start oral rehydration and take their child for medical evaluation. In severe cases requiring a visit to the emergency room or hospitalization, treatment may involve replacing body fluids through the veins using an intravenous (IV) line.