Vomiting and Diarrhea
Child & Adolescent Care
Vomiting and Diarrhea Overview
Vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms for many illnesses. Most often, the culprit is either a virus or having eaten food that upsets your child’s stomach. Sometimes, vomiting and diarrhea can come as a pair, but either can appear alone. Remember: some infants spit up after eating or burping; this is not considered vomiting.
- Regurgitation, or throwing up whatever liquids and solids are consumed
- Abnormally frequent bathroom visits with fluid or watery bowel movements
Visit your Wellstar pediatrician if your child is:
- Under 3 months old and has a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C)
- Aged 3-6 months and has a temperature above 101°F (38.4°C)
- Over 6 months and has a temperature above 103°F (39.4°C)
- Under 2 years old and has vomiting or diarrhea
- Still experiencing stomach pain after two hours, vomiting is not better in 12 hours, or diarrhea isn't better after three days
- Bloated, or he or she won't take liquids
- There is blood in the vomit or diarrhea or bile (yellow-green liquid) in the vomit.
- Having pain with urination, a bad headache, neck pain, or a strange rash
- Unable to take the medicine he/she needs
Vomiting and Diarrhea Prevention
Vomiting and diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. It can also be triggered by foods that are either of low nutritional value, such as sweets, and by undercooked meat or fish.
Reduce Your Child’s Risk of Vomiting and Diarrhea
- Make sure your child eats a healthy diet
- Understand the rules of food safety—from washing produce to properly cooking meats
- Make sure your child (and you) regularly washes his/her hands. Most infections that cause diarrhea are caused by a virus found in feces.
- Dispose of dirty diapers properly
Vomiting and Diarrhea Treatment
Although vomiting and diarrhea can be symptoms of several mild illnesses, dehydration—loss of water from the body—can be a major concern.
Treatment for Vomiting
Most cases of vomiting are caused by a virus and improve on their own. Do not use either over-the-counter or prescription remedies unless they've been specifically prescribed by your Wellstar pediatrician for this affected child and this particular illness.
To minimize the likelihood of inhaling vomit, keep a vomiting infant or toddler lying on his/her side as much as possible.
To prevent dehydration, be sure your child consumes enough extra fluids to replace those lost; if they vomit these fluids, notify your Wellstar pediatrician.
For the first 24 or so hours of any illness that causes vomiting, keep your child off solid foods, encouraging them to consume small amounts of an electrolyte solution (as recommended by your Wellstar pediatrician) or clear fluids. Liquids help prevent dehydration, and are less likely than solid foods to cause further vomiting.
Be sure to follow your Wellstar pediatrician's guidelines for giving your child fluids; occasionally they may prescribe anti-nausea drugs.
If your child can't keep clear liquids down, or the vomiting becomes more severe, notify your Wellstar pediatrician. They will examine your child, and may order blood, urine and/or stool tests or x-rays. Sometimes, hospital care will be necessary.
Treatment for Diarrhea
Most children with mild diarrhea can continue a normal diet, including breastfeeding, formula, or milk. If your baby seems bloated or gassy after drinking cow's milk or formula, call your Wellstar pediatrician to discuss temporary alternatives.
Children with moderate diarrhea are likely to need electrolyte solutions, which replace water and salts lost through diarrhea. Do not try to prepare these fluids yourself; use only commercially available fluids, whether generic or brand-name, that are made for people with diarrhea. If your child is not vomiting, these fluids can be used generously until they resume producing normal amounts of urine.
Unless your child is vomiting, continue to feed them. You may have to provide smaller amounts, and/or different types, of food. Do not give them anti-diarrhea medicine unless prescribed by your Wellstar pediatrician.
If your child had blood in their stool, develops a high fever (more that 102°F/39°C), or has any significant change in behavior, call your Wellstar pediatrician.
Ongoing Care for Vomiting and Diarrhea
Wellstar offers long-standing, community-based pediatricians who are close to home and trained to:
- Help you determine healthy lifestyles for your child and useful ways to role model your choices.
- Offer advice to prevent illness and injuries.
- Provide early and appropriate care of acute illness to prevent its progression.
- Treat life-threatening childhood conditions requiring intensive care.
- Guide you in anticipating your child’s needs from birth to adulthood.
Pediatric Emergency and Immediate Care Center
Certified nurses with pediatric advanced life support certification work with Wellstar’s board-certified emergency services physicians in the Pediatric EDs at Wellstar Cobb and Kennestone hospitals. The Pediatric Emergency Department at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital is open seven days a week, from 11 AM to 11 PM. The Pediatric ED at Wellstar Cobb Hospital is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.