Patient Information

Diarrhoea and vomiting (gastroenteritis) in children


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This is for anyone looking after a child with diarrhoea and vomiting (gastroenteritis).

What is diarrhoea and vomiting (gastroenteritis)?

Diarrhoea and vomiting is an infection of the gut which causes diarrhoea (watery, smelly poo), vomiting and tummy pain. Diarrhoea usually lasts up to 5 days and vomiting usually lasts up to 3 days.

How do I look after my child with diarrhoea and vomiting?

If you are breastfeeding, continue to do so.

Encourage fluid intake, little and often. You can offer drinks via a straw or a medicine syringe, or via ice lollies.

Avoid fizzy drinks, fruit juices and dairy products.

Offer drinks such as Dioralyte which help to rehydrate them.

When they can drink without vomiting, try adding small amounts of bland solid food. For example a piece of banana or plain toast.

When do I contact my GP?

Contact your GP if you are concerned or you notice any of the following.

  • Your child has had diarrhoea more than 6 times in the past 24 hours or has blood in their poo.
  • Your child has vomited 3 times or more during the past 24 hours.
  • Your child has stopped breastfeeding.
  • Your child is having dry nappies or having fewer than 2 to 3 wet nappies in a 24 hour period.
  • Your child is unusually sleepy or difficult to comfort.
  • Your child has cold hands or feet or blotchy skin.
  • Your child has constant tummy pain.
  • Your child is less than 6 months old and has vomiting and diarrhoea. Young babies are more at risk of dehydration.
  • Your child looks pale, weak or floppy.
If you are unable to make a GP appointment, go to your nearest Emergency Department (A&E).

How can I prevent the spread of diarrhoea and vomiting?

Diarrhoea and vomiting is easily spread from one person to another. To prevent this, do the following.

Wash your (and your child’s) hands with soap and water after going to the toilet, changing nappies and before preparing, serving or eating food. Use soap and water because alcohol gel or alcohol handwash will not stop germs from spreading.

Avoid sharing towels and flannels.

Wash soiled clothes/bedding separately, at a temperature of 60 degrees.

Regularly clean the toilet at home with disinfectant or bleach.

Avoid sending your child to school, nursery or classes while they have diarrhoea and vomiting. They should only return after at least 48 hours since their last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting.

More information

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NHS information on diarrhoea and vomiting in children
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Diarrhoea and vomiting (gastroenteritis) in children - Kingston Hospital Download PDF


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