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Pedialyte vs Gatorade

Pedialyte vs Gatorade – which is better for toddlers with stomach flu?


Stomach flu, also known as viral gastroenteritis, is an infection that causes inflammation of the intestines and stomach.

It is frequently confused with the seemingly harmless stomach ache, and it can be quite contagious.


After upper respiratory infections like colds, gastroenteritis is the 2nd most common illness in the US. Most children will come down with gastroenteritis at least two times per year.


Despite the nickname, viral gastroenteritis has nothing to do with the flu (which is caused by the influenza virus). However, stomach flu is commonly caused by ingesting contaminated water and food or by contact with an infected person.

It can be caused by pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites, however, viruses are the leading cause.

Types of viruses include the following:

  • a group of Norwalk-like viruses;
  • astroviruses;
  • caliciviruses (members of Class IV of the Baltimore scheme);
  • adenoviruses;
  • torovirus;
  • rotaviruses.

Note – babies are prone to viral gastroenteritis as their immune systems are immature. Also, they haven’t developed antibodies from years of exposure to different pathogens.


Diarrhea and vomiting are the two main symptoms of stomach flu. Other symptoms may include:

  • poor appetite;
  • nausea;
  • headache;
  • abdominal cramps;
  • low-grade fever.

Note – depending on the severity of the condition, the symptoms will typically last anywhere between several hours to a week or two.

When to Call the Doctor

See your doctor right away if your toddler:

  • seems dehydrated — watch for signs of dehydration in toddlers by comparing how much they urinate and drink with how much is normal for them;
  • has a fever of 38.9 C (102 F) or higher;
  • continues to have a high fever which does not come down even after 2 days;
  • is in a lot of pain or discomfort;
  • vomits;
  • has bloody diarrhea;
  • seems very irritable or lethargic;
  • has cool hands and feet;
  • has sunken eyes;
  • has dry or chapped lips;
  • has excessive nausea.


For formula-fed babies, continue with the usual formula. Note – since a baby with diarrhea may develop a temporary lactose intolerance (the inability to break down lactose, a natural sugar found in dairy products), it is best to consider switching to a lactose-free formula.

For breastfed babies, it is recommended to continue breastfeeding and feed more frequently.

Once your toddler feels hungry again, start with mild, easy to digest foods.

The BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet can be your go-to when it comes to an uneasy stomach.

It is best to avoid:

  • spices, especially curries, tomato-based dishes, and chili sauces;
  • grease, especially bacon;
  • foods high in dietary fiber;
  • dairy products – these foods can aggravate diarrhea and gas.

The biggest danger from stomach flu is dehydration.

For every bout of loose stools, it is recommended to add 60 to 100 milliliters of fluids, like – barley water, rice water, or rehydration solution, to replenish lost sodium and electrolytes.

Below Is A Comparison Between Two Drinks That Help To Replenish Lost Electrolytes:


It is specially formulated to help prevent dehydration by restoring nutrients lost during vomiting and diarrhea in babies, children, and adults. Pedialyte meets the requirements of the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) Committee on Nutrition to help prevent dehydration in toddlers.


It is a sports drink that is meant to combat dehydration better than water by packing in sodium and potassium.

The sports drink was developed in the summer of 1965 for the University of Florida’s football team and was tested on Gators’ football athletes.

Originally, Gatorade was produced by Stokely-Van Camp, but, in 1988, the brand was acquired by the Quaker Oats Company. In 2002, PepsiCo purchased the Gatorade brand.

The first Gatorade flavors were fruit punch, orange (the most popular), and lemon-lime. In the present day, there are about nine different varieties of Gatorade, including some with added minerals and vitamins, one organic, and a lower calorie version (this version substitutes sucralose and acesulfame for sugar).


Pedialyte can help prevent mild to moderate dehydration caused by diarrhea, vomiting, travel, physical exercise, and heat exhaustion.

Gatorade is a sports drink that is made up of carbohydrates, water, and electrolytes, that are engineered to help replenish the human body after physical exercise or dehydration.



For children over age 2, the dose is about 1 cup of Pedialyte after each bout of diarrhea. Children under age 2 should consume around 1/2 cup of this drink after each bout of diarrhea.

As Gatorade is not designed for toddlers with viral gastroenteritis, it has no recommended dosage.


Ingredients found in Pedialyte are:

  • Yellow 6;
  • Zinc Gluconate;
  • Acesulfame Potassium;
  • Sucralose;
  • Sodium Citrate;
  • Salt;
  • Potassium Citrate;
  • Natural & Artificial Flavor;
  • Citric Acid;
  • Dextrose;
  • Water.

Ingredients found in Gatorade are:

  • Yellow 5 (a synthetic yellow azo dye);
  • Natural Flavor;
  • Glycerol Ester Of Rosin (an oil-soluble food additive);
  • Gum Arabic;
  • Monopotassium Phosphate;
  • Sodium Citrate;
  • Salt;
  • Citric Acid;
  • Dextrose;
  • Sugar;
  • Water.

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Nutrition Facts & Electrolytes

1 serving of 12 fl oz (360 mL) of Pedialyte contains:

  • Protein, g: 0;
  • Potassium, mg: 280;
  • Sugars, g: 9 18;
  • Chloride, mg: 440;
  • Sodium, mg: 370;
  • Zinc, mg: 2.8;
  • Total Fat, g: 0;
  • Calories: 35.

1 bottle of Gatorade contains:

  • Niacin 1.3mg;
  • Thiamine 0.1mg;
  • Manganese 0.1mg;
  • Fluoride 207.1μg;
  • Zinc 0.1mg;
  • Phosphorus 60.9mg;
  • Iron 0.3mg;
  • Calcium 6.1mg;
  • Vitamin K 1.2μg;
  • Vitamin C 2.4mg;
  • Vitamin B6 0.1mg;
  • Sucrose 5.6g;
  • Maltose 1.2g;
  • Fructose 11.1g;
  • Potassium 91.4mg;
  • Sodium 237.5mg.

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Side Effects

Pedialyte is usually safe, but, when used in the absence of vomiting, diarrhea, or other cause of dehydration (like having a hangover), it may be problematic (due to excess sodium, magnesium, calcium, or potassium). Possible side effects include:

  • muscle spasm;
  • irregular heartbeat;
  • convulsions;
  • weakness;
  • excessive tiredness;
  • bone disorders;
  • nervous system disorders;
  • twitching;
  • numbness;
  • changes in blood pressure;
  • seizures;
  • confusion.

Gatorade contains a food additive called Yellow 5 that has been linked with behavioral changes, including restlessness, irritability, difficulty with sleeping, and depression.

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Conclusion: Pedialyte vs Gatorade

Pedialyte does not contain sucrose (the chemical name of table sugar), as this type of sugar draws water into the intestine and may make diarrhea worse. This increases the risk of dehydration. Moreover, Pedialyte has more potassium than Gatorade (780 mg/L versus 127 mg/L) as well as more sodium (1,035 mg/L versus 465 mg/L).

Therefore, for toddlers with stomach flu, Pedialyte is safer and more effective than Gatorade. Also, it is recommended that the toddler continues breastfeeding even if he is drinking Pedialyte.

Sports drinks, like Gatorade (or Powerade), can help with electrolyte replacement and should be reserved for adults and older children.