Diarrhea and Vomiting

Vomiting (throwing up) and diarrhoea (watery bowel movements) are common symptoms of gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is the inflammation and irritation of the stomach and intestines. Vomiting and diarrhoea can be harmful, because they can cause dehydration. Dehydration occurs when you lose too much fluid. Young children and the elderly can become dehydrated quickly, but dehydration can occur at any age.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Little or lack of urine, or urine that is darker than usual.
  • Urinating less frequently than usual (fewer than 6 wet diapers a day for infants and 8 hours or more without urinating for children).
  • Thirst (babies may show thirst by crying, being irritable and eager to drink when something is offered).
  • Irritability.
  • Not eating as well as usual.
  • Weight loss.
  • Dry mouth.
  • No tears when crying.
  • In babies who are younger than 18 months old, sunken soft spots on the top of their heads.
  • Skin that isn’t as springy or elastic as usual.
  • Sleepiness.

Anyone who has had several bouts of vomiting or diarrhoea will need to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.

For babies: If you are breastfeeding, continue to give your baby breast milk. Breast milk has fluids and electrolytes needed to prevent dehydration. Your doctor may also want you to give your baby an oral rehydration solution (ORS).

For toddlers and young children: Use an ORS, which contains the right mix of salt, sugar, potassium, and other nutrients to help replace lost body fluids. Children older than 1 year may also have Pocari Sweat, clear soups, clear sodas, or juice mixed 50-50 with water to help prevent dehydration. You should avoid giving your child plain water and soft drinks. Water alone does not contain enough salt and nutrients to help with dehydration. Soft drinks are typically very high in sugar and can irritate your child’s stomach.

For adults and seniors: To replace the fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea, adults and seniors should try to drink at least seven eight-ounce glasses of water each day. Seniors may also use ORS, Pocari Sweat or liquid meal replacements to help replace lost body fluids.