Vomiting and Diarrhea in Children
Can vomiting and diarrhea be dangerous to my child?
Vomiting (throwing up) and diarrhea (frequent, watery bowel movements) can cause
dehydration if too much fluid is lost from the body. Some signs of dehydration are dry
mouth, increased thirst, sunken eyes, lack of tears when crying, irritability and reduc ed
urination. If dehydration becomes severe enough, death may occur.
How can I keep my child from getting dehydrated?
If your child has had several bouts of vomiting or diarrhea, he or she will need an
oral rehydration solution (ORS). The ORS contains the right mix of salt, sugar, potassium
and other elements to help replace lost body fluids.
How effective are home remedies for dehydration?
Generally, home remedies for dehydration-such as apple juice, chicken broth, cola,
Gatorade, ginger ale or tea-shouldn't be given to children under two years of age. These
drinks don't contain the right balance of sugar, salt and other elements. Soft drin ks
that have caffeine in them shouldn't be given, because caffeine increases the loss of
water and salt. Even plain water can cause problems, such as lowering the amount of salt
or sugar in the blood. Talk to your family doctor about whether it's safe to give home
remedies to your older child.
How should I give the oral rehydration solution?
If your child has diarrhea and isn't vomiting, don't limit how much ORS your child
drinks. You can give the ORS in a dropper, a spoon, a boffle or a cup. Your doctor will
probably tell you the minimum amount your child should drink.
What should I do when the vomiting stops?
When your child stops vomiting, you can increase the amount of ORS you give each time
and lengthen the time between when you give the drink to once every three or four hours.
Keep giving the ORS until your child's stools return to normal.
Should I feed my child during sickness?
Breast feeding and formula feeding may continue while you're using an ORS. Talk to your
doctor about the best approach, especially if your child's diarrhea seems to be getting
Should I give my child medicine to stop the diarrhea?
Medicine usually isn't needed, since diarrhea generally doesn't last very long. If the
diarrhea is caused by an infection, medicine may interfere with the body's efforts to get
rid of the infection. Talk to your family doctor if you think your child needs medicine.
Will my child need to go to the hospital?
This depends on how dehydrated your child is. Your child may need to be given special
fluids intravenously (through a vein). This is the quickest way to replace fluids lost
through vomiting and diarrhea.