Vomiting and Diarrhea - the Dreaded Stomach Bug

“I need to spit up!”  declares my three-year old.  

Hearing these words (which are code for I’m about to vomit right now), I launch myself off the couch, leap across dangerous obstacles composed of toys and books  to get across the living room to scoop him up off our off-white carpet.  Then running like mad cupping my hand strategically below his mouth, I repeat over and over, “Wait wait wait!  Throw up in the potty, not on the floor!  You’re okay, you’re okay!”  

And then, a few inches from our target destination of the bathroom toilet, he throws up.  Oh well… at least it’s easier to clean here.

The holiday season this year brought my family many presents… including a stomach virus.  I got it and my kids got it (my husband kept thinking he was getting it –but managed to avoid it).  Many people have unfortunately fallen prey to stomach viruses this year.  You or your family members may have been through it, too.   If so, I’m so sorry – I know how horrible it can be.   Luckily, it tends to go away in a few days leaving most of us wiped out, but okay.

Children are smaller and have less ability to tolerate vomiting and diarrhea compared to adults.  Therefore, they get dehydrated much quicker than grownups do. 

If your child is vomiting or having diarrhea, it is of utmost importance that your child stays hydrated.  Food or solids are not important while your child is vomiting.

Sometimes vomiting or diarrhea can be a symptom of a more serious illness. 

If you see any of the following, you should call your doctor:
  1. Projectile or forceful vomiting
  2. Blood in the vomit or diarrhea
  3. Severe stomach pain
  4. Fevers>104 F
  5. No improvement in vomiting in 24 hrs
  6. Persistent diarrhea more than 10 days
  7. Prolonged diarrhea after finishing antibiotic use.
  8. Your baby is less than four months old and is having vomiting or diarrhea
  9. Pain with urination or more frequent urination
  10. Severe headaches
  11. Drinking frequently
  12. Symptoms other than just vomiting or diarrhea
To help your child get through it, try the following:

For vomiting, give your child small sips of clear fluids that have electrolytes (such as Pedialyte).  If your child refuses to drink or is unable to keep fluids down, use a medicine syringe and squirt small amounts into his/her mouth every five minutes.  Your child needs to urinate at least three times a day.  If your child has not urinated for more than eight hours or is lethargic or can’t keep anything down, call your doctor immediately. 

Do not give milk or heavy foods, such as dairy or fried foods.  These are likely to come back up.  If your child wants to eat, give small amounts of bland foods such as crackers, toast or plain cereal.  Foods with lots of liquid are also good – such as popsicles, soup, and jello.

If your child has not thrown up for at least 12 hours, it is reasonable to try slowly advancing his/her diet.  Again, avoid heavy foods for the best chance of success.

For diarrhea (and no vomiting), give your child the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) to help firm up stools.  Lactose can be difficult to digest with diarrhea, so using a lactose-free milk or soy milk/formula temporarily may help with symptoms.

Probiotics are also useful for combating diarrhea.   Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that help to keep our digestive system healthy.  If your child is not vomiting, then eating yogurt is one way to get probiotics.  Many pharmacies and grocery stores carry probiotics in various forms that kids can eat  – granules for infants and toddlers, chewable tablets for young children, and capsules for older children and adults.

To prevent spreading the virus to others, wash your hands frequently!  The viral particles are in the vomit and the stool.  Wash your hands frequently and use antibacterial soaps and surface cleaners.  Make sure that other children do not share utensils, cups and food with the sick child.

Oh wait,  I think I hear something. 

“Mommy!  I need to spit up!”  Uh oh, gotta run… here we go again!