The forceful emptying of the stomach contents is known as throwing up (vomiting). Two or more loose, watery stools constitutes diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea without fever is common in children. Vomiting and diarrhea often occur together, but may happen independently of each other and at any time. The symptoms, while frustrating and worrisome, may serve as the body’s natural method to rid itself of the offending cause. Extended periods of vomiting or diarrhea may lead to dehydration.
A child’s gastrointestinal system is sensitive and may react to certain medications or foods that are hard to digest, such as sweets or undercooked meats. Other causes of vomiting and diarrhea may be virus, bacteria or parasites. Viral gastroenteritis is the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea, specifically Rotavirus and Norovirus.
Patient will have soft, formed stools; patient will vomit less than 2 times in 24 hours; patient will maintain adequate hydration
Understanding the severity of symptoms can help determine course of treatment.
Determine when symptoms began, any contributing factors and if other family or household members are experiencing similar issues. This can help determine etiology and guide treatment. Other sick family members should be isolated from the patient.
Monitor for fever or signs of dehydration including tachycardia and tachypnea.
Rapid respiratory rate may indicate possible aspiration of emesis.
The presence of blood in vomitus or stools may indicate a more severe infection or issue in the GI system.
Patient may be guarding if unable to verbally express pain; note hyperactive sounds that may accompany diarrhea
Determine fluid balance and need for rehydration intervention; prevent dehydration. Decreased wet diapers may be a sign of dehydration.
Determine if the cause of symptoms is due to a parasitic or bacterial infection; helps determine course of treatment
Help patient clean perineal area following stools to prevent skin breakdown and rash; apply barrier cream such as zinc oxide as needed
Encourage parents to continue offering normal diet.
Patients are often more responsive to frozen juice bars, ice pops and flavored gelatin.
Supplementation of electrolyte solution may be required.
Breastfed infants should continue to breastfeed with ORS supplementation
This diet is easy on the digestive system and helps to decrease diarrhea and replace nutrients lost. This is often still suggested even though research has not shown that this helps. This is not recommended for pediatric patients because of the low energy and lack of protein and fat content.
Typically, antidiarrheal medications are not recommended, as diarrhea usually resolves spontaneously once the virus or bacteria has been flushed out of the body.
Anti-nausea medication may be given depending on the severity of vomiting.
Antibiotics may be given if symptoms are related to bacterial infection
Encourage good handwashing to prevent spread of infection.
Avoid sugary or high fat foods that can make diarrhea worse.
Encourage older children (>2yrs old) to drink chicken broth or sports drinks to help rehydration
For more information, visit www.nrsng.com/cornell
Start a 24 hour full access trial for just $1.