Vomiting and Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea (watery stool) are very common symptoms in children. Vomiting and diarrhea can happen at any time of year. Although they often happen together, you can have either one or the other alone. The most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea is an infection caused by a virus (it's also called viral gastroenteritis).
The virus spreads easily. Washing your hands often is the best way to prevent spreading the virus. Wash your hands carefully after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before handling food. Soap and water is the best way to clean your hands. You can use an alcohol based hand sanitizer if there isn't any soap and water. The information below will help you manage your child's vomiting and/or diarrhea.
This information is for children 3 months to 11 years old. If your child is less than 3 months old, talk to your doctor or call Health Link at 811
It's important to make sure your child is getting enough fluids (staying hydrated). See the
RED ZONE signs. Keep giving children their normal diet even while they're vomiting or having diarrhea. This is because children who are fed normally get better faster than those who are given only liquids while they are sick. If your child has either vomiting and/or diarrhea that isn't stopping, give 5 to 60 mL of fluids every 5 to 60 minutes. See “What to Feed Your Child" for age appropriate food and fluid choices. See the
RED ZONE signs and symptoms for help managing symptoms.
Call your family doctor, pediatrician, or Health Link if your child has:
Monitoring Your Child’s Hydration
The symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea usually go away in 5 to 7 days. Sometimes they can take up to 2 weeks or more. Vomiting usually starts first, followed within hours to a few days by diarrhea. Children often have a fever when they have vomiting and diarrhea.
Vomiting and fever usually stops before diarrhea, but not always. All symptoms can seem to improve for a day or two and then come back. If diarrhea improves but then gets worse, speak with your doctor or call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: October 2, 2018
Author: Maternal, Newborn, Child and Youth Strategic Clinical Network (SCN), Alberta Health Services
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