Diarrhea and vomiting are caused by many different contagious germs Most of these illnesses are due to viruses but can more rarely be due to bacteria or parasites. Your child could have one of these illnesses if they have more than 3-4 loose bowel movements or episodes of vomiting within 24 hours. Additionally, some medicines may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms may include nausea, painful stomach cramps and fever.
How can I take care of my child?
The loss of bodily fluids not only makes children very tired and weak, but it puts them at risk for dehydration, which can be a very serious condition and cause for hospitalization. Isolated diarrhea is not usually serious, but it is important to follow the protocols for hydration any time your child has vomiting or diarrhea. For babies, protect against diaper rash with ointment such as Desitin or A&D after each diaper change, and use diaper wipes without alcohol. If your child begins vomiting, stop all food and drink for 30 minutes to give the stomach a chance to rest.
For both diarrhea and vomiting, it is very important to keep your child hydrated with oral electrolyte supplement such as Pedialyte. For diarrhea, be aware that the sugars in fruit juices can make symptoms worse. However, do not give your child plain water, as it does not replace the lost electrolytes to their system. If the child has been vomiting, begin with an ounce of Pedialyte (or similar drink), and if the child doesn’t vomit after 15 minutes, give another ounce. Do this for 1-2 hours. If tolerating liquids, advance to bland diet slowly.
Avoid spicy, fatty and acidic foods for a few days. For diarrhea, it is not necessary to reduce consumption of dairy. The following foods are recommended to try before returning to a normal diet. If your child has been vomiting, do not try introducing food until they have been on clear liquid for four hours.
- Broth soups
- Baby foods
- Starches (cooked cereal, crackers, noodles, potatoes or bread)
- Eggs (boiled or scrambled)
- Cottage cheese
- Plain baked or boiled meats
- Metamucil cookies or matzo
When to Call
Call during office hours if you have any questions or concerns.
Call our office immediately if your child:
- has not had a wet diaper in more than 8 hours for infants, or produced urine more than 12 hours for children.
- is less than 3 months old and fever is present or if significant episodes of either diarrhea or vomiting is present.
- has blood in stool
- has vomited any amount of bile
- vomiting has lasted more than one day for infant under 12 months, or 2 days for older than 12 months.
- has more than 8 episodes of diarrhea per day and cause for concern about dehydration.
- has a fever of 105◦ or more, or any fever that has lasted more than 3 days.
- has diarrhea that lasts more than 2 weeks.
Call 9-1-1 immediately if your child:
- has severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, making grunting noises with each breath, unable to speak or cry because of difficulty breathing or severe retractions).
- is difficult to awaken or not alert when awake.
- is very weak (doesn’t move or make eye contact).
- has blue or dark purple color to the nail beds, lips, gums or face.