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Self-Care for Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea can make you miserable. Your stomach and bowels are reacting to an irritant, such as some food, medication, or viral stomach flu. Vomiting and diarrhea are two ways your body can remove the problem from your system. Nausea is a symptom that discourages you from eating, giving your stomach and bowels time to recover. To get back to normal, start with self-care to relieve your discomfort.

Woman drinking large glass of water

Drink Liquids

  • Drink or sip liquids to avoid dehydration (excess fluid loss).

    • Clear liquids, such as water or broth, are the best choices.

    • Do not drink beverages with a lot of sugar in them, such as juices and sodas. These can make diarrhea worse.

    • Do not drink sport drinks, such as Gatorade, which don’t have the right mix of water, sugar, and minerals, and can also make the symptoms worse.

    • If the thought of drinking something makes you queasy, suck on ice chips.

When You’re Able to Eat Again

  • As your appetite returns, you can resume your normal diet.

  • Ask your doctor whether there are any foods you should avoid.

Medications

  • Vomiting and diarrhea are methods your body uses to rid itself of harmful substances (such as bacteria). DO NOT use antidiarrheal or antiemetic (antivomiting) medications unless your healthcare provider tells you to do so.

  • Aspirin, medication containing aspirin, and many aspirin substitutes can irritate your stomach. So avoid them when you have stomach upset.

  • Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Talk to your doctor about any medications you take that may be causing these symptoms.

  • Certain over-the-counter antihistamines can help control nausea. Other medications can help soothe stomach upset. Ask your healthcare provider which medications may help you.

Call Your Doctor If You Have:

  • Bloody or black vomit or stools.

  • Severe, steady abdominal pain.

  • Vomiting with a severe headache or vomiting after a head injury.

  • Vomiting and diarrhea together for more than an hour.

  • An inability to hold down even sips of liquids for more than 12 hours.

  • Vomiting that lasts more than 24 hours.

  • Severe diarrhea that lasts more than 2 days.

  • Yellowish color to your skin or the whites of your eyes.

 

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