[member-grid items=” Ted Humphry” perrow=”4″ linkprofiles=”1″ /]Diarrhea and vomiting both come from irritation or infection of the intestinal tract. Diarrhea and vomiting may have the same cause. The goal of treatment of either one is to maintain hydration, keep the child as happy as possible, and promote healing. If a child has both diarrhea and vomiting, treat the vomiting first.

Vomiting is quite common as part of a virus syndrome or stomach flu. If a child is slightly lethargic or normally active with vomiting, it is probably okay to only restrict intake for a few hours to see if the vomiting will pass. If the child continues to seem reasonably well but the vomiting continues more than twelve hours, giving clear liquids is best.

Clear liquids should not be very sweet. Breast milk and any liquid you can see through will qualify. Weak tea, dilute Koolaide, broth, water, and dilute, flat soft drinks are examples of clear liquids. Special formulas such as Pedialyte, Gatorade can be used but are expensive and not necessary. You can make your own special rehydration formula by putting 1/4 tsp. table salt, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 2 tsp sugar in a quart of water. The liquids need to be given in small amounts – an ounce or two – every half hour or so until the child goes several hours without vomiting. Then more fluids can be given at a time. If four to eight ounces are tolerated at a time for several hours it is okay to begin crackers, toast, fruit juice, rice, tapiocca, etc. and gradually over a day or two go back to a normal diet. The best was to evaluate dehydration and rehydration is by checking the child’s weight on an accurate scale.

Diarrhea is watery or loose stool, often more frequently, than usual. Newborns, infants, and some older children often have loose stools normally.

Babies and children get diarrhea often from viral stomach flu. Sometimes emotional stress can cause diarrhea, even in infants. Most cases are not severe and, regardless of the cause, can be treated the same way.

If the child is normally active and is drinking well it is best to continue the regular diet and wait for the diarrhea to go away. Most cases of diarrhea will resolve in a few days to a week or so. If the child is upset in her or his activity level, drinking has decreased, or the child is vomiting, try giving only clear liquids as outlined under VOMITING above.

If the child is dehydrated (see DEHYDRATION below), there is a large amount of blood in the diarrhea, or sudden, sharp, sustained pain, the child need to be evaluated and treated in the Emergency Room.
Most cases of diarrhea can be handled at home without visiting the doctor.

An infant or child may be dehydrated if he or she has extreme lethargy, sunken eyes, no tears with crying, parched lips and stringy saliva inside the mouth, no urine for 12 hours or repeated vomiting for longer than 24 hours. Call the Clinic for advice or to be seen (best), or go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care Clinic (second best).