Vomiting and diarrhea can be troubling, especially when our children are experiencing these symptoms. Prolonged bouts of vomiting and diarrhea can cause the body to lose more fluids than it retains, which leads to dehydration. Both of these symptoms are common signs of illness and often accompany a viral infection, such as the flu.
What is vomiting and diarrhea?
Vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms that affect people of all ages, from babies and adolescents to adults and seniors. In the majority of cases, these two symptoms are the result of a stomach virus or food poisoning and resolve on their own within a few days. To avoid dehydration, usually the only treatment needed is getting adequate rest and drinking plenty of fluids. Though a virus is usually responsible for these symptoms, there are other factors that can cause diarrhea and vomiting to occur at the same time, such as some types of medication and certain medical conditions.
What causes vomiting and diarrhea?
Vomiting and diarrhea can be caused by:
Gastroenteritis — A very common intestinal infection, gastroenteritis typically occurs due to a virus, bacteria, or parasite. The symptoms can include:
- stomach pain or cramping
- a low-grade fever
- a headache
Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis — Diverticulosis is a condition in which diverticula (pouches) form in the wall of the colon. The infection and inflammation of these pouches is known as diverticulitis. Symptoms may include:
- pain on the lower left of the abdomen
- bloody bowel movements
- frequent or painful urination
- a fever
Celiac Disease — A chronic autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten causes the immune system to attack its own cells, Celiac disease can cause permanent damage to the small intestine.
Symptoms of celiac disease may include:
- stomach cramps
- weight loss
- joint pain
- bruising easily
Side effects are unwanted reactions to a medication. Some common side effects include:
- an upset stomach
- dry mouth
Bowel Obstruction — A partial or full blockage of the small or large intestine, a bowel can become obstructed by food, fluids, and gas. This causes it to swell and triggers symptoms such as:
- stomach cramping
- stomach pain
- an inability to pass gas
- abdominal swelling
- appetite loss
- severe constipation or diarrhea
When should I take my child to the doctor for diarrhea and vomiting?
You should take your child to the doctor for vomiting and diarrhea, if:
- Dehydration is suspected, including no urine in more than 8 hours, dark or cloudy urine, very dry mouth and dry eyes or no tears
- Blood in the stool
- Stomach pain when not vomiting
- Age less than 12 weeks old with vomiting 2 or more times, with the exception of normal spitting up
- Age less than 12 months old with vomiting 3 or more times
- Severe vomiting (vomits everything, cannot hold down any food or water) for more than 8 hours while getting clear fluids
- Weak immune system, such as sickle cell disease, cancer, HIV, organ transplant, or if taking oral steroids
- Vomiting a prescription medicine
- Fever over 104° F
- Fever in babies less than 12 weeks old. Caution: do NOT give your baby any fever medicine before being seen by a pediatric specialist.
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- You think the problem is urgent and your child needs to be seen
Contact doctor within 24 hours if your child is experiencing the following:
- Age less than 1 year with vomiting
- Has vomited for more than 24 hours
- Fever lasts more than 3 days
- You think your child needs to be seen by a pediatrician, but the problem is not urgent
How is pediatric diarrhea treated?
Treatment for diarrhea depends on your child’s symptoms, the severity of their condition, age, and overall health.
Dehydration is the major concern with diarrhea. In most cases, treatment includes replacing lost fluids. When bacterial infections are the cause, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Children should drink lots of fluids. This helps replace the lost body fluids. If your child is dehydrated:
- Offer drinks called glucose-electrolyte solutions. These fluids have the right balance of water, sugar, and salts that children need to stay hydrated. Some are available as popsicles.
- Avoid juice or soda. They may make diarrhea worse.
- Do not give plain water to your baby
- Do not give too much plain water to kids of any age as it can be dangerous
- Keep breastfeeding your baby
- Keep feeding your baby formula, if they are currently formula-fed
If your child is experiencing vomiting and diarrhea, trust the pediatricians at All Better Pediatrics. Our kind and compassionate professionals are experienced in treating children with diarrhea and vomiting and can help your little one feel better, sooner. Call us today to book an appointment. We look forward to serving you! We serve patients from Memphis TN, Germantown TN, Bartlett TN, Cordova TN, Collierville TN, Oakville TN, and Lenow TN.
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