Diarrhoea, Vomiting and Dehydration

Diarrhoea, Vomiting and Dehydration

Diarrhoea and vomiting are common medical complaints. Typically, they are caused by a stomach bug and should go away in a few days.

However, while the symptoms should ease after a few days, treating diarrhoea and vomiting properly is crucial, as the bugs that cause them are easily spread. They can also result in dehydration, which can cause further health problems.

Is It Okay to Go to Work or School if You Have Diarrhoea and Vomiting?


The bugs that cause diarrhoea and vomiting are often contagious and can spread quickly. As such, you shouldn’t avoid going out and coming in contact with other people until you have not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least two days.

Similarly, if you have a high temperature or feel too unwell to do everyday activities. In that case, you should also avoid contact with other people.

Other Things You Can Do to Stop Spreading the Infection Are:


  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water

  • Wash any clothing or bedding with vomit or poo on them separately, using a hot wash

  • Clean down taps, toilet seats and flush handles, door handles and surfaces daily

  • Don’t prepare food for other people (if possible)

  • Do not share towels, flannels, cutlery or utensils with others

How Long Do Diarrhoea and Vomiting Usually Last?


  • Vomiting usually stops in 1-2 days.

  • Diarrhoea usually stops within 5-7 days.

How Should You Treat Diarrhoea and Vomiting?


Diarrhoea and vomiting can usually be treated at home without seeing a doctor or visiting the hospital.

  1. Do not eat or drink anything for at least an hour after vomiting – if you do, your body may think it has not vomited enough, causing you to be sick again.

  2. After an hour, take a small sip of water or squash every 15 minutes for the next two hours.

  3. When you can tolerate liquids, and if you feel hungry, try eating bland foods that aren’t too fatty or spicy. Good examples include bananas, rice, and plain toast.

  4. Once you can tolerate these foods, you can resume your usual diet.

Additionally, make sure you:

  • Stay at home

  • Get plenty of rest

  • Drink plenty of fluids, such as water or squash, while you recover (but not immediately following vomiting).

  • Carry on breast or bottle feeding your baby – if they’re sick too, try giving smaller feeds more often

  • Don’t have fruit juice or fizzy drinks – as they can make diarrhoea worse

  • Don’t make baby formula weaker – use it at its usual strength

  • Don’t give children under 12 medicine to stop diarrhoea

  • Don’t give aspirin to children under 16

When Should You Go to the Pharmacist for Diarrhoea or Vomiting?


  • You (or your child) are showing signs of dehydration – such as dark, smelly urine or going for a wee less often than usual.

  • You’re an older person, have a weakened immune system, or have other medical conditions that increase your risk of dehydration.

  • You need your diarrhoea to stop for several hours.

When Should You See a Doctor About Diarrhoea and Vomiting?


  • You are worried about a baby under 12 months old.

  • Your child stops breast or bottle feeding while they’re ill.

  • You or your child are showing signs of dehydration after taking a rehydration pack.

  • Your child under five is showing signs of dehydration.

  • You or your child keep being sick and can’t keep fluids down.

  • You or your child have blood in your diarrhoea or are bleeding from your bottom.

  • Diarrhoea has lasted for more than seven days.

  • Vomiting has lasted more than two days.

To speak to a medical professional, call 111 or get an appointment with your GP. If you think you are contagious, an online appointment may be best to avoid spreading the bug to others. If you aren’t yet registered with a GP, you can do so here.

When Should You Go to Hospital with Vomiting?


You should call 999 or go to A&E if you or your child:

  • Vomit blood or have vomit that looks like ground coffee.

  • Have green or yellow-green vomit.

  • Have swallowed something poisonous.

  • Have a stiff neck and pain when looking at bright lights.
  • Have a sudden, severe headache.

  • Have a sudden, severe stomach ache.

  • Have blue, grey, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue. This may be easier to see on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet if you have b
    lack or brown skin.
  • Are having severe difficulty breathing.

  • Are confused or are not responding like normal.

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