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Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and Diarrhea 
By: Betsy Blaylock, MSN, RN, CPNP 

     Unfortunately, most children will experience the dreaded tummy bug. Sometimes one just has nausea and vomiting, others just diarrhea, and still others have both- YUCK!!  But how does one manage these symptoms in a child, especially those who do not want to drink fluids?
     This is not a fun experience for anyone involved.  When the child first vomits, give them a tummy break (no food or drink for at least 15 to 30 minutes), then SLOWLY re-introduce small amounts of clear fluid. I often advise popsicles or ice chips, because this is a treat and good way to slowly give fluids.  For the child who is too young for popsicles or who refuses them, we advise parents give small amounts of fluid via a medicine syringe one sip at a time.  Pedialyte is an excellent option due to the added electrolytes, but not always well-received due to taste.  If the child refused Pedialyte, try water, Gatorade or Sprite.  Stay away from milk products, as lactose is one of the hardest things for the tummy to digest.
     Once the child is able to tolerate fluids and solids, then begin management of the diarrhea. Stick with bland and bulky foods like potatoes, rice, and toast.  Remember that "solid foods make solid poop."  Some studies have shown that green bananas are effective in shortening the duration of diarrhea. Another thing to consider in the treatment of diarrhea is the use of probiotics in order to build up the good bacteria in the child's tummy. There are probiotics available in the pharmacy section of most stores. They come in many different forms: pills, granules and chewable tablets. You may also consider live-culture yogurt like Activia.
     As with vomiting, be sure the child gets plenty of fluids: Pedialyte, Gatorade, and water.  Avoid fruit juices and sugary, greasy foods, as these can worsen the diarrhea.
     Signs of Dehydration:
     Things parents should watch for to determine whether a child is dehydrated include:
  * Be sure he or she is urinating at least once every 6 hours
  * Watch for tears when the child cries
  * Check for moist mouth: put finger under tongue to feel for moisture 
  * Lethargy: if the child is abnormally tired and difficult to awaken or not acting appropriately   
     Please call Midland Pediatric Associates if you have any further questions.