Diarrhea and vomiting
Diarrhea and vomiting come and go in a few days. Diarrhea (the passing of loose, watery stools) can last up to 14 days. It can be caused by germs (viral or bacterial), allergies, medicines or other stomach irritations.
The "flu" is not a stomach ailment. Influenza is an upper respiratory illness that rarely causes vomiting.
Vomiting (throwing up food and fluids) can occur at the same time as diarrhea.
Your child may lose fluids and minerals during diarrhea. This is called dehydration. You need to make sure your child drinks enough liquids to prevent dehydration.
What to give your child to drink for vomiting
You may give your child:
- an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte® or Infalyte®. These have water, sugar and salt, which will keep your child's body hydrated. Follow the package directions.
- ginger ale
- small amounts of water.
What not to give your child to drink
Do not give your child:
- soft drinks (with lots of sugar)
- fruit punches.
Continue feeding solids with diarrhea as long as your child is not vomiting.
How much your child should drink for diarrhea
During a bout with diarrhea, your child should drink at least twice as much fluids as normal.
For the first four to six hours, a 1-year-old child should drink at least four ounces of fluid every hour (or one ounce every 15 minutes).
Follow the Pedialyte or Infalyte package directions for your child's age. Your child should return to a regular diet as soon as possible.
Do not give your child just Pedialyte or Infalyte for more than 24 hours without calling your health care provider.
What to do if your child is vomiting
Give the rehydration solution in small amounts — two to three teaspoons every 10 minutes — until the vomiting stops. Slowly increase the solution according to package directions.
What to give your child to eat
An infant may only need an extra bottle of formula or more breastfeeding.
If your child has diarrhea, she may eat a regular diet. Your child may not want to eat at first, but try to get her to eat within 24 hours of the start of diarrhea.
- Keep breastfeeding if your infant or toddler is nursing.
- Keep giving your infant or toddler the same formula you usually use.
- Keep giving your child the solid foods she usually eats.
Good solid food choices are:
- rice cereal
- bread or toast
- vegetables (potatoes)
- fresh fruit (bananas or applesauce)
- yogurt or cheese
- meats (turkey and chicken).
This is not a good time to introduce new foods.
When to call your health care provider
Call your health care provider for an appointment if the diarrhea and/or vomiting get worse or if your child:
- is younger than 6 months old
- is vomiting and can't keep fluids down
- has signs of dehydration:
— has a dry mouth
— has no tears when crying
— has sunken eyes
— has a lack of urine (or dry diaper for more than eight hours)
— is unusually sleepy or fussy
- has a bad stomachache (like cramps)
- has blood in vomit (or vomit that looks like coffee grounds)
- has blood in the stool.