Viruses are the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea in children. Usually these illnesses are self-limiting, meaning that they will resolve without any medications. However, it is important to provide supportive care to children to prevent dehydration and manage discomfort until the illness has resolved. Vomiting due to viral gastroenteritis usually last 12-24 hours but diarrhea can last for several days. Viral gastroenteritis is contagious so children should be kept out of daycare or school until symptoms have resolved.
How to treat persistent Vomiting/Diarrhea
- If your child is vomiting everything offered including very small volumes of clear fluids, allow the stomach to rest for 1-2 hours
- Avoid unnecessary medications
- Allow your child to sleep for a few hours if tired
- Oral Rehydration
- Continue breastfeeding for a few minutes each feed every 30 minutes to hour. Return to regular feeding after 4 hours without vomiting.
- If unable to tolerate breast milk, give small volumes of oral rehydration solution (such as Pedialyte), about 10 ml every 5 minutes. Switch back to breastfeeding after 4 hours without vomiting.
- Gradually return to normal diet including purees and solids once tolerating fluids.
Bottle feeding infants
- Give small volumes of oral rehydration solution (such as Pedialyte), about 10 ml every 5 minutes. After 4 hours without vomiting, double the amount. After 8 hours, return to regular volume formula.
- Gradually return to normal diet including purees and solids once tolerating fluids. If your child has diarrhea, he may need to avoid dairy temporarily as diarrhea can cause temporary lactose intolerance.
- Give small volumes of water or ice chips for vomiting alone.
- Use oral rehydration solution or ½ gatorate / ½ water if the child has watery diarrhea along with vomiting.
- Increase the amount of fluids after 4 hours without vomiting.
- Add solid foods gradually after 8 hours without vomiting. Start with bland starchy foods and advance slowly as tolerated. If your child has diarrhea, avoid dairy as diarrhea may cause temporary lactose intolerance.
When to call the Doctor
- Signs of dehydration
- Very dry mouth
- Unable to produce tears
- No urine output for 8 hours or more
- Vomiting everything including oral rehydration
- Symptoms last longer than expected
- Your child appears ill or lethargic
- Severe abdominal pain or crying
- Blood or mucous in diarrhea
- Any other concerning symptoms