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Diarrhea, Vomiting, and Water Loss in Children

Having a sick child can be worrying. Diarrhea and vomiting can make it even more worrisome. These conditions are one of the most frequent reasons we have parents call us here at The Pediatric Center. Often times, vomiting and diarrhea in children presents no serious threat and ceases as fast as it started. But sometimes, excessive water loss through diarrhea and vomiting can become dangerous.

Dehydration can occur if your child is losing too much water because of diarrhea and vomiting and is not taking in enough replacement fluids. It is very important for you to monitor your child very closely so that you can evaluate their condition and provide as much replacement fluids as possible.

Your pediatrician may diagnose your child as having gastroenteritis (GAS-troh-en-tur-EYE-tis). It is caused by a virus and cannot be treated by antibiotics. Most viral infections are cleared up by your child’s immune system.

When should you call an Idaho Falls pediatrician?

Should your child start vomiting and/or throwing up, there are some things to look out for and if present, a call to your pediatrician’s office is in order.

If your child is under 6 months old

  • Fever over 102°F or 39°C
  • Blood in stool (poop) or vomit
  • Green vomit (not to be confused by yellow colored stomach fluids)
  • Vomiting for over 12 hours or diarrhea for more than 2 days
  • Belly pain

If your child exhibits any of these additional signs of being too dry

  • Urinates very little (wets fewer than 6 diapers per day)
  • Has no tears when crying
  • Can’t/Won’t drink anything or feels very thirsty
  • Has a dry, sticky mouth, and/or dry lips
  • Noticeable weight loss
  • Eyes sunken in or a sunken soft spot on head (for babies)
  • Acts very lethargic or strangely

What to do for vomiting in children

Vomiting usually accompanies nausea and because of this, your child may not want to take in fluids due to discomfort. However, in case of repeated vomiting, it is essential for parents to attempt to get fluids into their child. Start by giving small sips or drinks of clear fluids every 10-15 minutes and after a vomiting episode. If your child continues to vomit, yet is NOT dry (dehydrated), wait up to 2 hours before offering fluid again. Stop is your child continues throwing up and call your pediatrician. If your child is holding down their fluids and is hungry, give them small amounts of simple foods (for children over 1 year old). These types of food include:

  • Rice
  • Wheat bread or pasta
  • Boiled or baked potatoes
  • Cereal, such as oatmeal
  • Boiled egg
  • Lean meat, such as chicken or turkey
  • Fruits and/or vegetables
  • Yogurt or milk
  • Breast milk or formula
  • Electrolyte drinks (like Pedialyte. Avoid Gatorade as it contains acids and high fructose corn syrup that can irritate sick tummies)

Avoid these foods:

  • Fatty foods such as French fries, ice cream, chips, cheese, butter, or fried food
  • Sugary foods such as candy, cookies, pastries, and cake
  • Sugary drinks including soda pop to very salty soups and broths when diarrhea is bad
  • Never give boiled milk

Remember, if you aren’t sure of what to do in case of vomiting in children, call your pediatrician. He/she will advise you on what to do should your child’s vomiting concern you. To avoid dehydration, take proactive measures to keep your child supplied with clear electrolyte fluids and plenty of rest.

What to do for diarrhea in children

Most cases of diarrhea in children last about 3-6 days or longer in some cases. Diarrhea isn’t a concern if your child feels well and is eating, drinking, and urinating like usual. Of course, diarrhea isn’t all that fun to begin but as long as your child does not exhibit any other symptoms, it usually goes away on its own.

Mild diarrhea in children

Mild diarrhea is characterized by infrequent trips to the bathroom that are not considered “emergency” in nature. And by “emergency,” we’re talking about not being able to get to the bathroom in time to avoid an accident. Unless your pediatrician suggests otherwise, keep your child’s diet unchanged. However, your pediatrician may suggest changing your child’s diet should a food intolerance is suspected.

Moderate diarrhea in children

Moderate diarrhea in children can cause dehydration if it is not treated properly. Moderate diarrhea is characterized as frequent episodes to the bathroom, the trip being “emergency” in nature (again, “emergency” meaning not being able to get to the bathroom in time to avoid an accident). If your child is suffering from moderate diarrhea, intaking special electrolyte fluids to replace lost fluids is important. If you are unsure about what to give and how much, call your pediatrician.

Some children will not be able to drink cow’s milk when experiencing moderate diarrhea. That’s okay. Just replace it with an electrolyte enhanced fluid. Breastmilk is still okay for babies. Once your child begins to recover and feel better, he/she can go back to eating regular foods.

Severe diarrhea in children

Go back up and check the When Should You Call an Idaho Falls Pediatrician section above. If your child is exhibiting any of those signs, call your pediatrician right away. You may even need to take your child to the emergency room for treatment depending on the severity of the diarrhea. Severe diarrhea in children is characterized by very frequent accidents, pain while defecating, and dehydration.

Your Idaho Falls Pediatrician Can Help

The Pediatric Center in Idaho Falls is happy to answer any questions you may have regarding vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Our physicians have extensive experience and training to help parents safeguard and protect the health of each child that walks through our doors. To contact an Idaho Falls pediatrician at The Pediatric Center, call (208) 523-3060 or visit our contact page to submit a confidential contact form. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

For compassionate pediatric care and professional service, choose The Pediatric Center in Idaho Falls, ID.

We are conveniently located 3430 Washington Pkwy, Idaho Falls, ID 83404, just south of EIRMC and Sunnyside Road.

Directions from I-15 Northbound

  • Take the Sunnyside Road exit, #116 and turn right onto Sunnyside Road. Continue driving east for 4.7 miles. Washington Parkway is on the right, just before the Channing Way intersection. Our office is on the west side of Washington Pkwy.

Directions from I-15 Southbound

  • Take the Sunnyside Road exit, #116 and turn left onto Sunnyside Road. Continue driving east for 4.7 miles. Washington Parkway is on the right, just before the Channing Way intersection. Our office is on the west side of Washington Pkwy.