Vomiting and diarrhoea are usually due to viral, bacterial or parasitic infections of the digestive tract. Food or drug allergies are also sometimes to blame. Occasionally, diarrhoea is just a normal variation in bowel habits.

What it is

When vomiting and diarrhoea occur, your child’s body is trying to flush out harmful invaders. Digestive upsets may also be a reaction to travel, medicine or too much food or excitement. In severe cases, the body loses too much fluid and becomes dehydrated.

What to look for

Monitor for signs of excessive fluid loss (dehydration) and serious infection or poisoning. If you see signs of dehydration, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

What can be done

Allow the body to flush out the offending substance, and then let the digestive system rest. If both vomiting and diarrhoea are present, dehydration is more likely, so make sure your child drinks enough liquids. There are no recommended medications for these symptoms in children. Prevent spread of infection by washing hands often.

Replace fluid

Give small, frequent amounts of clear liquids. Special fluid replacement drinks can also help. For vomiting, it’s especially important that ‘feedings’ are small.

Starting to eat again

After vomiting and diarrhoea subside, or if only diarrhoea exists, gradually give your child small meals, eg, porridge, clear soup, etc. Then try foods like mashed potatoes, toast and rice. Avoid dairy products and fatty foods.

Medication may be the cause

Read labels carefully, as some medications can cause vomiting or diarrhoea. If your child is taking a new medication, consult your doctor.

When to see a doctor

Moderate fever – a temperature of 37.5°C (99.5°F) and above.

Dehydration – increased thirst, infrequent or dark urine, dull eyes, dry tongue and lost of skin elasticity.

Bleeding – stools are bloody and vomitus contains coffee ground-like material.

Severe abdominal pain. Severe vomiting. Severe diarrhoea.

Source: MIMS HealthToday Malaysia