Gastroenteritis: vomiting and diarrhea

Posted by

Our Emergency Department is seeing a lot of kids with vomiting and diarrhea.  Gastroenteritis also known as the “stomach flu” is a common illness caused by a virus or bacteria which in most cases can be managed at home and resolves within a few days. However, it may last one to two weeks.

Vomiting and diarrhea cause your child to lose fluids, sugar, and salt. The goal when treating gastroenteritis is to prevent dehydration.

Give small amounts of liquids frequently. Offer your child oral rehydration solution such as sports drinks with balanced sugar and carbohydrates (G2®) or electrolyte solutions (Pedialyte®). If your child vomits, take a break for about 30 minutes and then start offering the same amount of oral rehydration solution they were taking before vomiting.

Every 5 to 10 minutes give children aged:

2 to 5 years -30 mL (one ounce)

5 to 10 years -60 mL (two ounces)

Older than 10 years -90 mL (three ounces)

Once your child is drinking well, you can try offering them other foods and fluids in small amounts. You can start giving your child food as soon as their appetite returns, don’t worry if their appetite is low while they are sick, as long as they are drinking.

For gastroenteritis in babies over six months keep feeding your baby breastmilk or formula. You might need to feed your baby for less time/less amount but more often. If your baby refuses to breastfeed or take formula, you can offer them 5 mL of oral rehydration solution every few minutes.

Go to the Emergency Department if your child: • Has less than three urinations in 24 hours • Is unable to keep any liquids down • Has bloody diarrhea or blood in their vomit • Has green vomit (yellow is okay) • Has severe or concerning abdominal (belly) pain • Is unusually sleepy or difficult to wake up • Has a fever for more than five days • Is inconsolable, even when not vomiting