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Diarrhoea and vomiting

Vomiting and diarrhea are usually caused by viruses that infect the intestines but are sometimes caused by bacteria. They usually last about a day or two but can last up to a week.

Signs and symptoms

  • Frequent and uncontrollable loose, watery stools
  • Vomiting
  • Belly pain, cramps
  • Fever


If your child is throwing up, your child’s doctor may tell you to not give food until it stops. However, to keep your child from getting dehydrated, you may be told to give your child electrolyte drinks. Electrolyte drinks are special drinks that you can buy from a store. For school-aged children, your child’s doctor may also suggest caffeine-free sport drinks that are low in sugar. Children younger than 2 years should not be given medicine for diarrhea unless your child’s doctor tells you it’s OK. If your child has a bacterial infection that is causing the vomiting or diarrhea, antibiotics sometimes may be needed.

Call your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following signs of dehydration:

  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • No tears
  • Dry diaper or no urination for 6 hours
  • Dry mouth, skin, or lips
  • Sunken eyes
  • Not as alert as usual
  • Sunken soft spot on head (for infants)
  • High fever

Most cases of mild dehydration can be treated by giving your child fluids.  To lower the chance of dehydration, call your child’s doctor early if your child has vomiting or diarrhea that won’t go away.