How to treat diarrhea and vomiting

Updated July 16, 2018

Diarrhoea and vomiting are unpleasant symptoms of many viruses and bacterial infections. If these symptoms aren't treated, dehydration---a potentially deadly condition in which the body loses too much fluid---can occur. Children are more likely to develop dehydration than adults and should be monitored carefully if they are vomiting or experiencing diarrhoea. While most cases resolve with home treatment, it does not always provide relief. If you continue to experience these symptoms despite home care, seek medical treatment.

Drink clear liquids when you have been vomiting or experiencing diarrhoea. Wait until several hours after you have last vomited to begin ingesting clear fluids; begin with ice chips, working your way toward clear liquids when you can keep down the ice chips. If you have diarrhoea, you can either suck on ice chips or drink clear liquids, depending on which one you feel that you can handle.

Use an oral rehydrating solution, such as Pedialyte, Ceralyte or Oralyte, if you have been vomiting or have had diarrhoea longer than 24 hours. Using these solutions will help prevent dehydration by replacing lost fluids and minerals.

Eat bland foods once you can keep down clear liquids without vomiting or having diarrhoea. Use the BRAT diet as your guide for which foods you can eat: bananas, rice, applesauce and (dry) toast. Crackers or plain bread can also be eaten.

Rest while you are experiencing symptoms. Trying to push yourself to continue your daily activities while vomiting or experiencing diarrhoea can lengthen your recovery time.

Limit oral medication while experiencing symptoms. Ask your doctor if you can temporarily stop your medication. Oral medication can irritate the stomach and aggravate symptoms.


Be alert for signs of dehydration, such as decreased urination, thirst, dry mouth, weakness, dizziness or light-headedness. If your young child or baby becomes dehydrated, you may notice fewer wet diapers, excessive sleepiness or crying without tear production. You can consume a number of clear liquids when you aren't feeling well: chicken or vegetable broth, water, apple juice, flavoured ice, flat soda, gelatin or sports drinks. Drink small amounts of these liquids until you are sure that you are able to tolerate them.


Avoid eating spicy foods for 24 to 48 hours once you can successfully tolerate bland foods. Also, avoid foods that are harder to digest, such as fats, oils, dairy products, caffeine and alcohol.

Things You'll Need

  • Clear liquids
  • Bland foods
  • Ice chips
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About the Author

Working at a humane society allowed Jill Leviticus to combine her business management experience with her love of animals. Leviticus has a journalism degree from Lock Haven University, has written for Nonprofit Management Report, Volunteer Management Report and Healthy Pet, and has worked in the healthcare field.