DrMummyTips · Health tips

Diarrhoea and vomiting #DrMummyTips

I’m back and what better topic to celebrate my return with than a whistle-stop tour of the runs and vom.

(For those wondering where I have been, scroll to the bottom for a thorough list of excuses.  For those not interested and here on the search for tips on managing the spate of winter vomiting bugs – read on!)

The autumn/winter season loves to bring with it its fair share of diarrhoea and vomiting.

If your snot stained trouser legs and the incessant fevers aren’t enough to keep you occupied, fret not, norovirus will make the former two feel like a walk in the park.


  • What causes diarrhoea and vomiting?

Put simply- diarrhoea and vomiting (D&V) can be caused by bacteria or viruses.  The D&V that your baby/toddler/child is more likely to have at this time of year is due to viruses such as Norovirus (the winter vomiting bug).

  • How is it spread?

To bring a phrase back from my Itchy Bottoms post…it is happily spread by germy little ones who don’t wipe their bottoms well, don’t wash their hands after and then stick said hands into one another’s mouths/food etc.

(This doesn’t just apply to toddlers and preschoolers by the way. If you are sitting in your office at work right now…look around you…I guarantee the aforementioned lack of hygiene measures applies to 50% of your colleagues too.  Now go wash your hands!)

  • How do you prevent it from spreading?

Hand washing.  Good hand washing.  Soap and water will do.  (Don’t waste your money on organic alcohol free lavender and yucca tree infused hand gels.)

  • My child has D&V but the receptionists at the GP surgery have told me to keep him away!  

This is because the vast majority of tummy bugs are self-limiting.  This means that within a matter of hours to short days the symptoms will resolve and your child will feel much better.

It is also to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others in the waiting room.

In some cases however children can be at risk of becoming dehydrated.

A child who:

  • Is floppy/lethargic/unlike their usual self/looks ill
  • Is not weeing much
  • Cannot keeping any fluid or food down 
  • Has blood in their poo/vomit
  • Has a high fever
  • Is complaining of tummy pain
  • Is back from a recent holiday
  • Is known to suffer from other health problems
  • Is getting worse and not better

…does need a check-up.

  • What will the doctor do if my child is dehydrated?

Typically you will be reassured and advised to give them small volumes to drink as frequently as they are able.

Anti-diarrhoea or anti-vomiting medications are not usually recommended.  (My mantra for D&V is that it is better out than in!)

If your doctor thinks your child is dehydrated and needs a hospital review, you will be referred to hospital where a paediatrician will assess your child and consider admitting them to receive fluids via a drip to keep them hydrated whilst the infection runs its course.

  • What should I give my child to eat once they start keeping food down?

Some may have heard of the BRAT diet.  (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast.)  These foods are though by many to “bind” and so reduce the volume of loose stool.

Is there evidence to support this?  No, not really.

Recommendation is just to let your little one have anything (within sensible reason) that they are willing to eat and monitor them to make sure things are improving.  If they are not – go see your GP (and if you can/remember to- take a urine sample with you, it will speed things up as we usually want to check their wee for various things such as urine infections and signs of dehydration.)

  • How long does my child need to be off nursery/school?

48 hours from the last vomit/diarrhoea.

So there you have it, D&V in a nutshell.  Happy hand washing!

Dr Claudia x


P.S. LIST OF (very plausible) EXCUSES:

  • Pregnancy
  • Final GP training exams
  • Germy kids
  • Head cold
  • Generally knackered

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