nausea, vomiting & diarrhea
when is vomiting and diarrhea considered a medical problem?
Vomiting and diarrhea lasting over 12 hours becomes a medical concern especially if the patient has a fever
why are medical professionals concerned about vomiting and diarrhea?
Vomiting and diarrhea may cause dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. If there is too much loss of fluid, dehydration may occur. Severe dehydration (too much loss of fluid) may require treatment in the hospital.
What causes vomiting and diarrhea?
Most vomiting and diarrhea is caused by "gastroenteritis" or simply, and infection of the gastrointestinal tract. Some patients may have abdominal pain. Other causes can be ear, throat (strep), or kidney infections. A problem such as intestinal blockage or appendicitis may also cause vomiting.
Sometimes bloody vomiting occurs when the stomach wall is stretched with retching and some of the small blood vessels are torn. A few small steaks of blood are not of great concern, but larger amounts should be checked by your health care provider.
how to medical professionals treat vomiting and diarrhea?
The most important treatment is a special diet to let the stomach rest. Since most causes are caused by viruses, antibiotics will not be of any help. It is very important to follow diet instructions carefully.
If vomiting, do not eat or drink anything for 4 hours, then:
- Start with small amounts of ice chips. Avoid water because it is not well tolerated when you are vomiting
- Drink 2 to 3 ounces of liquids each half hour for 1 to 2 hours, then increase to 3 to 4 ounces each half hour for 1 to 2 hours.
- If after 6 hours there is no further vomiting, you may drink as much as you would like. Cold fluids are generally better tolerated. If diarrhea persists, drink room temperature liquids.
- If vomiting begins again, return to ice chips and small amounts of liquids
what are the best liquids to drink?
- Gatorage (diluted to half-strength with water)
- Jell-O - add 1 package to a quart of water
- Gingerale, cola beverages - but stir out all the bubbles first
- Ice chips
What kind of diet is helpful?
Once the vomiting has stopped for several hours, you may start eating a diet of complex carbohydrates which includes bananas, rice, apples, toast, wheat, potatoes, bread, cereal, then begin to add chicken or other lean meats. Avoid foods that are spicy, greasy or high in sugar. Avoid all diary products until the vomiting and diarrhea resolve.
How long can I expect it to last?
Vomiting usually disappears after 24 hours but may last longer, and the diarrhea that often is associated with it may last for several days.