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Controlling vomiting

  • Vomiting is one of the most common health problems that we face. They are usually a result of a contagious infection of the stomach or intestines (gastroenterity or stomach flu). They can sometimes come from eating contaminated food. Cramps, fever and a bloated stomach may also be present with these illnesses. Stomach pain that is constant, severe or worsening may be a sign of a more serious illness. You should visit a doctor if this occurs.

    Dehydration problem: The most important danger from vomiting and diarrhea is dehydration or loss of fluids and minerals from the body. This can occur in adults but is more common in children and infants. Treatment of vomiting and diarrhea is directed at replacing lost fluids. Sometimes this requires the use of intravenous fluids in the hospital, but most can be treated by taking liquids by mouth.



    Solution to dehydration: The best liquids to use in infants and small children are human milk for breast-fed babies and the prepared solutions Pedialyte, Ricelyte, Resol, and Rehydralyte. Children over age two can also be offered Gatorade. These can be bought at most supermarkets or drugstores for a small cost. “Rice water” or “suero” can be used, but the commercial fluids have exactly the right combination of sugar and electrolytes to replace the fluids lost in vomiting and diarrhea. For that reason, it is best to avoid boiled milk, fruit juices, soda, and Kool-Aid.

    The secret to success in keeping fluids down is to take small amount frequently. Try to give one teaspoon of liquid every 5 minutes, even when the child is vomiting. A teaspoon of liquid every 5 minutes will give 2 ounces each hour. Often vomiting will persist for the first 4 to 6 hours despite any treatment. When the child stops vomiting and keeps down the small amounts for an hour, you can try 1to 2 ounces every one half to one hour. If no further vomiting occurs for 2 hours, the child can be allowed to drink as much as they wish.

    No feeding during vomiting: Do not feed the child any food for the first 12 to 24 hours of a vomiting illness. If the illness consists of diarrhea without vomiting, the child should be given the liquids described above for the first 24 hours, then the foods described below for the next 24 hours. When the child has not vomited for 3 to 6 hours and is feeling hungry, begin small frequent feedings of foods such as rice, potatoes, noodles, crackers, toast, cereals, soups, cooked vegetables, and bananas. Avoid fatty foods and butter. After 24 to 48 hours of clear liquids and tolerating foods, the child can begin to drink milk again, in small servings of 2 ounces.

    In infants, change diapers frequently, wash your hands frequently (to prevent spread of the infection), and apply lotion such as Vaseline or A&D Ointment to the diaper area. Prescribed medicines are only rarely used in treating these problems. Pepto Bismol often reduces diarrhea in children or adults, but should not be used in children less than one year old. See bottle instructions for the amount to take. Antibiotics are helpful in certain types of infection.

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