On this page

Vomiting and Diarrhoea - Hello Health Hub

Vomiting and Diarrhoea - Hello Health Hub
On this page

What is vomiting and diarrhoea?

Babies, children, and adults often suffer with vomiting and diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhoea can happen on their own or together. This usually happens when you have a stomach bug and it should get better in a few days.

Gastroenteritis is the term used when someone has vomiting and diarrhea caused by an infection, usually a stomach bug. It usually comes from contaminated food or close contact with someone who already has symptoms.

What are the causes of vomiting and diarrhoea?

The main reasons for the vomiting and diarrhea bug are treated in the same way, even if the specific cause is unknown.

The most common causes are:

  • A stomach bug (gastroenteritis)
  • Norovirus, otherwise known as the "vomiting bug”
  • Food poisoning

Treatment for vomiting and diarrhoea?

Usually, you can treat your child or yourself at home. To prevent dehydration, drinking plenty of fluids is crucial. You only need to take anti-diarrhoea medicine if you want to make your diarrhoea go away faster. Children should not use medicine to treat diarrhoea.

Anti-vomiting medicine can be useful. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor for help.

Most people with diarrhoea don't have to take antibiotics. They will not help you feel better or help you recover faster. Diarrhoea usually happens because of a virus and antibiotics cannot treat viruses. Your body will fight the virus on its own.

The most important thing is drinking lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. You can find helpful oral rehydration solutions at the pharmacy for treating diarrhoea. Older children might not enjoy the flavour of oral rehydration drinks. You can give them clear, flat lemonade-like drinks to help prevent dehydration.

What you should do:

  • Remain at home and get lots of sleep.
  • If you feel sick, take short sips of liquids like squash or water.
  • Continue to breastfeed or bottle-feed your infant; if they are ill, try giving them smaller meals more frequently than normal.
  • Give formula-fed or solid-food-fed infants modest sips of water in between feedings.
  • You don't need to eat anything particular or avoid anything; just eat when you feel like it.
  • Check the leaflet before giving medication to your child and take paracetamol if you're feeling uncomfortable.
  • Avoid fruit juice and carbonated beverages because they can worsen diarrhoea.
  • Avoid making your baby formula weaker – use it at its normal strength.
  • Give no medication to children under 12 to stop diarrhoea.

Usually, diarrhoea subsides after 5 to 7 days. Vomiting typically ends within a day or two.

Is diarrhoea and vomiting contagious?

Diarrhoea and vomiting can spread easily. You are most contagious from when the symptoms start until 2 days after they end.

If you also have a high temperature or are not feeling well enough to carry out your regular activities, then try to stay at home and limit interaction with others until you feel better.

Once you haven't vomited or had diarrhoea for at least two days, you should be safe to go work or school.

To lessen the risk of infection spread:

What you should do:

  • Routinely wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Wash any soiled bedding or clothing separately on a hot wash.
  • Every day, clean the doorknobs, taps, the surfaces, toilet seats, and flush handles.
  • Use alcohol hand sanitizer

What you shouldn’t do:

  • If possible, avoid making food for other people.
  • Do not share utensils, cutlery, towels, or blankets.
  • Utilise a pool only two weeks after the symptoms have subsided.

You should speak to a pharmacist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • You or your child urinates less frequently than usual or has dark, smelly urine.
  • You're older, have a weakened immune system, or have another medical condition that increases your risk of dehydration.
  • A pharmacist can help suggest medication to relive symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.

You should contact your GP if you:

  • notice blood in the diarrhoea or vomit.
  • have bad tummy pain with diarrhoea.
  • have recently returned from travel abroad.
  • are on regular medication and cannot take it.
  • are passing much less urine than usual.
  • feel weak or have severe muscle pains.