I have gotten pretty good at dodging vomit over my years as a pediatrician. It only takes once or twice really to learn, after you have been hit.
“Gastroenteritis”, also called “stomach viruses,” “stomach flu,” or “rotavirus” is one of the most common kid illnesses.
You catch the virus (or occasionally bacteria)
from other people’s dirty hands or from food contaminated with the virus. In a day or two the virus “brews” inside you and you start with the vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes fever and headache. Usually the vomiting only lasts half a day or so, then you have four or five or more days of diarrhea.
Dehydration is the main way children get into serious trouble. Dehydration is when the body does not have enough water to provide good blood volume. The body’s organs begin to starve for lack of fluids, nutrients, and oxygen. Your kidneys try to hold on to what fluids you have, and you stop making urine. The signs of dehydration then become more obvious as your organs- your brain, your blood, your kidneys- sicken. You get sleepy and harder to arouse, you begin to breathe shallow and fast, your skin gets pale and grayish.
Most vomiting can be taken care of at home. If a child vomits, simply wait an hour or two for the stomach to settle down. Then start giving only clear fluids like sports drinks or pedialyte. Pedialyte is the very best to give for babies. If the child vomits again, relax. Wait another hour or two and try a small amount of fluid again. It usually takes a good eight to twelve hours for a child to really start to get dehydrated. When in doubt, call your doctor.
If your child has stopped vomiting and is taking clear fluids for six or so hours, then you can restart small amounts of bland food. If the child vomits then, stop for an hour or two and restart the small amounts of clear liquid.
If your child only has diarrhea, but is drinking ok, they typically won’t have dehydration. Children tend to absorb enough fluids even with lots of diarrhea. Keep the fluids coming. Also, science has shown that the sooner a child is back on their regular diet, the sooner the diarrhea goes away. So as soon as your child can take food, give it and keep it coming. Even if it looks if it is going “right through,” keep the food coming- your child again will absorb enough to get by.