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Do’s & Don’ts of Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea can be due to food poisoning, international travel, influenza or other viruses. Sometimes these symptoms are mild and resolve on their own in a day or two, and other times they’re serious symptoms that need urgent medical attention. Here’s what you should do (and not do!) if you have vomiting or diarrhea.


Check your temperature.

The presence or absence of a fever (a temperature of 100.4F or above) can help differentiate between potential causes of vomiting and diarrhea. If you’re experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, it’s important to monitor your temperature and seek medical attention if you spike a fever, because fevers can indicate a potentially more serious cause.

Keep track of the number of episodes you have.

It’s important to document the number of episodes of vomiting and diarrhea you experience, because quantifying your symptoms helps a medical provider know if this is a mild condition, or if you’re at risk for serious complications, like dehydration. Giving your provider accurate and concrete information about your symptoms helps them care for you better and determine the most helpful course of treatment. 

Drink slow sips of clear fluids.

While it’s necessary to stay hydrated if you have a GI bug, drinking a large volume of fluids too quickly can irritate your stomach and cause you to vomit more. The best approach if you’re vomiting is to drink a few teaspoons of liquid every 5-10 minutes. It’s also wise to drink something with salt, sugar or electrolytes, rather than plain water, to give your body the nutrients it needs while you’re ill.

Eat simple carbohydrates. 

While you have a stomach bug or are recovering from one, simple carbohydrates make the best food choices, because they’re bland and easy for your GI tract to digest. Plain rice, noodles, crackers, toast, bananas, and rice cakes are all good choices. Once you’re feeling back to normal, you can slowly add in your favorite proteins, produce, dairy products and spices.


Ignore serious symptoms.

If you have a fever (100.4), vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than 48 hours, abdominal pain or symptoms of dehydration (weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, dark urine), it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Ignoring these serious symptoms can lead to dangerous complications.

Take anti-diarrhea medicine if you have a fever.

While over-the-counter diarrhea medicine can be effective, it’s not safe to take it if you have a fever because it can cause dangerous bacteria to build up in your intestines and, in some rare cases, even explode! If your temperature is 100.4 or above, consult a medical professional before using over-the-counter treatments.

Handle other people’s food while you’re sick.

Whether you’re a restaurant worker or a parent making dinner for your kids, it’s important not to handle other people’s food while you are vomiting or have diarrhea, because many pathogens that cause these symptoms are transmitted through food. In addition to washing your hands frequently, avoid any food prep until your symptoms have been gone for 24 hours.

We're Here if You Need Us

At GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re open seven days a week to care for you! If you’re experiencing serious symptoms from vomiting or diarrhea, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Walk in to your local GoHealth Urgent Care center or save your spot online. Select your location below to find a center near you. 


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