Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea are common in children and are usually part of a shortlived illness, most often caused by a viral infection. There are no safe or effective over-the-counter medicines for diarrhea or vomiting. The goal is to prevent and when needed, treat dehydration. The way to do this is with SMALL FREQUENT FEEDINGS.

For vomiting in breastfeeding infants, the baby may continue to nurse, just more often and for shorter periods, e.g. breastfeed every 15-30 minutes for 5-10 minutes. For older infants and children oral rehydration fluids like Pedialyte work best because they replace the fluid, salt, and sugar that are lost through vomiting and diarrhea. Sports drinks like Gatorade and most juices contain too much sugar and are generally not recommended for rehydration. If your child has not vomited for 15-30 minutes, you may start with 1 ounce of fluid every 10- 15 minutes. If this is tolerated for an hour or two, you may gradually increase the amount and give it less often. If the vomiting recurs, go back to 1 ounce every 10-15 minutes. Sometimes only sips or teaspoonfuls are given every 5-10 minutes. If your child refuses to drink, you may try freezing Pedialyte to make popsicles or offer low sugar popsicles. Remember: SMALL FREQUENT FEEDINGS is the rule.

If there has been no vomiting for several hours, or if there is only diarrhea without vomiting, a regular diet is generally recommended, but still small amounts given more frequently. Foods that are high in fat or sugar should be avoided. The BRAT diet by itself (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) is too restrictive and is no longer considered a good choice. Recommended foods include a combination of complex carbohydrates (rice, wheat, potatoes, bread), lean meats, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables. Formula and cow’s milk may be given and should not be diluted.

Call our office if there are signs of dehydration:

  1. decreased urination (less than 3 wet diapers or pees in 24 hours)
  2. mouth and tongue dry with little saliva
  3. no tears when crying
  4. sunken eyes
  5. extreme lethargy, lack of activity, not interactive/responsive

Also call our office if there is:

  1. extreme irritability
  2. difficulty breathing
  3. severe abdominal pain
  4. your child will not eat or drink
  5. vomiting lasts more than 24 hours
  6. vomit is green, red, or brown
  7. diarrhea is bloody
  8. your child is not “ill”, but diarrhea lasts more than 7 days
  9. fever (temperature 100 degrees or more) for more than 5 days

Good hand washing with soap and water is the best way to prevent the spread of vomiting and diarrhea, as well as the spread of most infectious diseases. Hand sanitizer may be used but is not quite as effective.

If you think that your child may be dehydrated, please call our office to speak with a nurse or to schedule an appointment.

Don’t hesitate to call with any other questions!