Treatments for Vomiting

Self care -general

Most episodes of vomiting won’t last long.

Some painkillers (called NSAID, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac) will irritate your stomach and intestines, so don’t take these when you’re vomiting.

  • You can buy sachets from your pharmacy to make up rehydration drinks that will replace electrolytes that are lost during vomiting (Gastrolyte and Pedialyte are two products that are available). Electrolytes are salts your body needs to function properly, such as potassium and sodium. The drinks also help prevent dehydration.
  • If the person has stomach cramps, give them a hot water bottle or wheat pack for their tummy. If necessary, they could take paracetamol (such as Panadol).
  • Give them foods that are likely to be non-irritating to their gut and easy to absorb (eg, bananas, yoghurt, bread).

There are medicines that stop vomiting - but in doing this they also stop your body from getting rid of whatever is causing the vomiting. They can also mask the symptoms of something more serious, like a blockage in your bowel. Therefore, don’t use these medicines unless they’re prescribed by your doctor.

Call Healthline 0800 611 116 if you are unsure what you should do.

Source: New Zealand Health1

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Back to: « Vomiting

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Self-care -infants up to 1 year

  • Babies should not go more than 4 hours between feeds during the day. Wake your baby if they’re sleeping when they need to be fed.
  • Continue to breastfeed or give formula as usual.
  • Give extra fluids such as Gastrolyte or Pedialyte, or 1 part fruit juice to 5 parts water.
  • Go back to your baby’s normal diet as soon as they have no signs of dehydration (ie, they’re passing urine and their skin relaxes when pinched). This will help them recover more quickly and not lose as much weight. If your baby eats solids, start off with starchy foods such as baby rice, bread, mashed potatoes and bananas.

Source: New Zealand Health2

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Self-care -children aged 1-4 years

  • Give extra fluids, such as water, Pedialyte or Gastrolyte. Try freezing the rehydration drink into iceblocks if your child doesn’t like the taste.
  • If your child doesn’t want to drink, offer ice to suck, use a novelty straw or try a timer to encourage them to have a small drink every 10-15 minutes.
  • You can also offer diluted fruit juice - 1 part fruit juice to 5 parts water. Give small amounts (1 tablespoon) every 5 minutes. After 4 hours without vomiting, increase the amount.
  • If your child is hungry let them eat small amounts. Otherwise, don’t worry about food.
  • Start with bland, starchy foods that are easily absorbed, such as bread, crackers, rice, pasta, noodles and mashed potatoes. Chicken with the skin removed, and bananas, are also good for the first 24 hours.
  • Go back to your child’s normal diet after 24-48 hours.

Source: New Zealand Health3

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Self-care - adults and older children

  • Rest your stomach for an hour or two.
  • Start introducing small amounts of clear fluids (sips or a teaspoon every 10-15 minutes, then slowly increase). Water, clear soup, a rehydration drink like Gastrolyte or Pedialyte, or diluted fruit juice (1 part fruit juice to 5 parts water) are all good options. Try freezing the rehydration drink into iceblocks if your child doesn’t like the taste.
  • Avoid milk and milk products, fizzy drinks (which bloat your stomach and can trigger vomiting) and full-strength fruit drinks.
  • Adults should aim for 2-3 litres of fluid a day (unless your doctor has told you to restrict fluids for some reason).
  • When you’ve stopped vomiting, begin to reintroduce solids. Start with starchy foods that are easily absorbed, such as bread, crackers, rice, pasta, noodles and mashed potatoes. Chicken with the skin removed and bananas are also good.
  • Avoid foods that are high in fibre (like bran), whole fruits (except bananas) and vegetables, spicy or fatty foods, alcohol and caffeinated drinks (like coffee, tea).

Source: New Zealand Health4

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What to do

If your child vomits, you should keep a close eye on them. Trust your instincts and contact your GP immediately if you're worried.

If the cause is just a tummy bug, your child should still be feeling well enough to eat, play and be their usual self. In this case, keep feeding them as normal and offer them regular drinks (see below).

But if they don't seem themself - for example, if they're floppy, irritable or less responsive - they may be seriously ill, so you should get medical help immediately.

Source: NHS Choices UK5

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When to get medical advice

You should contact your GP if:

  • your child is repeatedly vomiting and is unable to hold down fluids
  • you think they're dehydrated - symptoms of dehydration can include a dry mouth, crying without producing tears, urinating less or not wetting many nappies, and drowsiness
  • their vomit is green or contains blood
  • they have been vomiting for more than a day or two

Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department if your child is vomiting and develops sudden and severe tummy pain, or they're floppy, irritable or less responsive.

Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E department immediately if they're vomiting and have a headache, stiff neck and a rash.

Source: NHS Choices UK6

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Looking after your child at home

In most cases, you can treat your child safely at home. The most important thing you can do is make sure they keep drinking fluids to prevent dehydration.

If your baby is vomiting, carry on breastfeeding or giving them milk feeds. If they seem dehydrated, they will need extra fluids. Ask your GP or pharmacist whether you should give your baby oral rehydration solution.

Source: NHS Choices UK7

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Oral rehydration solution is a special powder that you make into a drink. It contains sugar and salts to help replace the water and salts lost through vomiting and diarrhoea.

Children who are vomiting should keep taking small sips of clear fluid, such as water or clear broth. Fruit juice and fizzy drinks should be avoided until they're feeling better. If they're not dehydrated and haven't lost their appetite, it's fine for your child to eat solid foods as normal.

Again, speak to your GP or pharmacist if you're concerned about dehydration. They may recommend an oral rehydration solution for your child. Contact your GP or practice nurse if your child is unable to hold down oral rehydration solution.

If your child has diarrhoea and is vomiting, they shouldn't go to school or any other childcare facility until 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting.

Read more about treating gastroenteritis in children.

Source: NHS Choices UK8

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Do’s

  • Ensure the case is excluded.
  • Do encourage staff and children to practice good hand hygiene at all times.
  • Notify your local Health Protection Team if there are more cases than normally expected.

Source: GOV.UK9

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References

  1. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ vomiting
  2. ibid.
  3. ibid.
  4. ibid.
  5. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ vomiting-children-babies/ 
  6. ibid.
  7. ibid.
  8. ibid.
  9. Source: GOV.UK: gov.uk/ government/ publications/ health-protection-in-schools-and-other-childcare-facilities/ chapter-9-managing-specific-infectious-diseases

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.