When to Treat Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea can be extremely unpleasant and cause a significant amount of discomfort. In most cases, however, the symptoms do not point towards any severe health concern. Although, there are certain times when vomiting and diarrhea need to be treated by a medical professional to ensure the symptoms do not worsen or last for longer than necessary.

While most cases of vomiting and diarrhea are minor and not a cause for concern, it is essential to keep a close eye on the symptom and come in for a visit to our urgent care facility in the event the symptoms start to cause a severe level of discomfort or last for more than a day or two.

While preventing the onset of vomiting and diarrhea is ideal, it is not always practical, and many of the causes of vomiting and diarrhea are simply unpredictable. Subsequently, knowing what signs are a cause for concern and seeking medical assistance when they present themselves is crucial to making a full, speedy recovery.

If you or your child suffer from vomiting and diarrhea that is concerning or lasts for more than several days, be sure to come in for a visit or give us a call to find out the cause of your vomiting and diarrhea and adequately manage the symptoms while they last.

Facts from
The Rehydration Project
  • Diarrhea is a common problem that usually resolves on its own, although it is not always best to let it run its course.
  • Food intolerance, such as being lactose intolerant or gluten intolerant, is a typical cause of diarrhea.
  • People with Diarrhea caused by certain infections can lose up to 20 liters of fluid a day.
  • The average humans intestine is about eight meters long.
  • Darker vomit is potentially severe and in many cases needs medical treatment.
  • Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting or seeing others vomit.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea can both lead to severe dehydration, which can cause serious health concerns that require prompt attention.
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome occurs when an individual experiences recurring episodes of vomiting without an apparent cause.
Questions to Ask
Your Urgent Care Provider
  • What triggered my vomiting and diarrhea?
  • Is there anything I can do to ensure that my vomiting and diarrhea does not turn into a chronic issue?
  • Are there any home remedies I should try to control my vomiting or diarrhea or is it best to let it run its course?
  • How long do the vomiting and diarrhea typically last?
  • What should I do if my vomiting and diarrhea last for an extended amount of time without improving?
  • Is it normal to have a fever along with vomiting and diarrhea?
  • Other than an infection, what else can cause vomiting and diarrhea?
  • Am I contagious?
  • What foods should I avoid to ensure my vomiting and diarrhea does not become worse?
  • Is it okay for me to go to work or school?
  • Should I be concerned about dehydration?
  • Is there anything I could have done to prevent my vomiting and diarrhea?

Causes of Vomiting and Diarrhea

There are different reasons why someone may be suffering from the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. Although it can be challenging to do so, it is essential to try and find the exact cause of the vomiting and diarrhea as the treatment is likely to differ depending on the cause. The best way to determine the cause of your vomiting and diarrhea is to remember recent lifestyle decisions you have made and determine if any of them could be the reason for your vomiting and diarrhea. While there are numerous reasons why a person may exhibit the symptoms, here are several of the more common causes of vomiting and/or diarrhea:

  • Consumption of spoiled food
  • Overconsumption of food or alcohol
  • Stress
  • Pregnancy

The primary cause of vomiting and diarrhea that coexists is some stomach illness, including food poisoning and stomach viruses. To determine if this is the cause, try and remember if there are any questionable foods you have eaten lately or have been around anyone recently who is sick.

Another common cause of vomiting and diarrhea is overconsumption, whether it be food, alcohol or some form of a drug. While overeating food generally does not pose much of a health risk, consuming too much alcohol or drugs can have serious long-term health risks, and it is essential to seek medical attention if this is a probable cause of the vomiting and diarrhea.

Also, it is not uncommon for too much stress to cause vomiting and in some cases diarrhea. Lastly, if there is a chance of you being pregnant, it is crucial to take vomiting and nausea very seriously as it is typically an early symptom of pregnancy.

If you are unsure of the cause of vomiting and diarrhea and are concerned about the symptoms, be sure to visit us here at our urgent care facility for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Vomiting and Diarrhea Treatment Options

To fully understand how to treat vomiting and diarrhea, it is important to know why our body produces and reacts in vomiting and diarrhea. In some instances, a bacteria or virus can release a substance or toxin that can cause these vomiting or diarrhea. When our body comes across an unfamiliar substance or one that it deems harmful, it tries to get rid of the element as quickly as possible. Therefore, the concept of vomiting and diarrhea is helpful to our body. However, too much vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration and other serious health concerns, which is why it is important to try and control the symptoms as much as possible.

Unfortunately, there is not a way to completely cure vomiting and diarrhea. In most cases, it is best to let it run its course, assuming the symptoms do not last for an extended period or lead to dehydration.

Therefore, the best way to treat vomiting and diarrhea is to let the body and the stomach rest properly. For the first several hours after vomiting begins, avoid consuming anything and let the body clear out the harmful substance. After approximately 6-12 hours, you can, and should, start consuming food and fluids once again. However, be sure to eat very light and choose foods that do not upset your stomach, such as soup or a small salad. While drinking, avoid taking big sips. Instead, take small sips often to stay hydrated.

Lastly, try your best to avoid taking any medications, unless authorized to do so by a medical professional. Frequently medications can make vomiting and diarrhea worse or even be the cause of vomiting and diarrhea in the first place. If you rely on specific medications that you cannot keep down, be sure to visit us at our urgent care facility as soon as possible to ensure you receive the treatment needed.

How to Prevent Vomiting and Diarrhea

As difficult as it can be to treat vomiting and diarrhea, it can be even more challenging to prevent vomiting and diarrhea because it can happen at any time and can be the result of different causes, many of which are unpredictable. With that said, however, there are certain things you can do to help prevent vomiting and diarrhea from occurring in the first place.

While there is always the chance of eating a bad meal that seemed fine at the time, you can help prevent these symptoms by doing the following:

  • Practice proper hygiene
  • Stay home and rest when sick
  • Be cautious  around individuals who are sick

First and foremost, it is crucial to practice good hygiene, including washing your hands often with soap and water, cleaning frequently used surfaces around your home and office and avoiding touching your eyes and mouth, especially after a sneeze or touching a doorknob.

Practicing proper hygiene can undoubtedly help prevent developing an infection, there is still certainly a chance that you may fall ill at some point. While you are sick, however, there are certain precautions you can take to minimize the possibility of developing the symptom of nausea, which could ultimately lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Most importantly, be sure to stay home and rest while sick with the cold or flu, which gives your body all it needs to fight off the infection.

Lastly, be cautious around others who are sick, especially if they have developed an infection within the last three days because that is when they are the most contagious. While it may seem rude to avoid contact with others, most who are sick are considerate and understand your concern.

Perhaps the most important thing to do is avoid eating any questionable foods that may cause food poisoning.

When to Visit Urgent Care for Vomiting and Diarrhea

A minor case of vomiting and diarrhea should improve on its own between 24 and 48 hours after the symptoms first begin. However, if the symptoms last for more than several days or become so severe that they cause an unbearable amount of pain and discomfort, you may want to consider visiting us at our urgent care facility.

With that said, there are various other reasons why you may want to visit us for your case of vomiting and diarrhea, and it is crucial to seek medical assistance if any of the following is true:

  • Vomiting lasts for more than a day
  • Diarrhea lasts for more than three days
  • You suffer from an extreme fever
  • You are unable to take important medications
  • Your child suffers from severe or chronic vomiting and diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea can be a scary time and cause for concern. In the event your vomiting and diarrhea need to be treated by our medical staff, your symptoms usually can go away within a couple of days, and there are not any risks of long-term issues.

While the above symptoms are a cause for concern as it pertains to vomiting and diarrhea, certain situations are even more severe and need to be treated in an emergency room, which includes:

  • There is blood found in your vomit
  • You become severely dehydrated
  • Recently traveled to another country
  • Suffer from severe abdominal pain

It is important to be able to assess the cause and severity of your vomiting and diarrhea as it is easier to manage and treat the symptoms if they are dealt with early. In most cases, you can treat your vomiting and diarrhea at home, but keep a close eye on the signs and visit urgent care if they begin to worsen or last for an extended period.

Consult With Us

To ensure your vomiting and diarrhea is kept at a tolerable level and the symptoms do not last for longer than what is necessary, be sure to consult with us anytime the concerns as mentioned above start to present themselves, including if the vomiting and diarrhea become intolerable or lasts for more than a couple of days.

At our urgent care facility, we have a team of medical professionals and the resources necessary to effectively and efficiently treat the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea as well as accurately diagnose the underlying cause for the symptoms.

Without the proper treatment for vomiting diarrhea, you run the risk of becoming dehydrated, developing a severe fever or just being far more uncomfortable than necessary. With the appropriate treatment, however, you can keep your symptoms at a tolerable level and ensure there are not any other health concerns that develop as a result of the vomiting and diarrhea.

In the event your vomiting and diarrhea worsens or lasts for an extended amount of time, be sure to consult with us and get the treatment you need. By doing so, you will more than likely be able to make a quick recovery and get back to living your life in a reasonable, healthy manner in no time.


Q. Is it okay to not eat or drink while I am suffering from vomiting and diarrhea? After all, I am just going to throw it up anyways

A. It is important to continue to try and eat and drink while suffering from vomiting and diarrhea as the failure to do so can lead to dehydration, which poses a substantial long-term health concern. With that said, there are certain foods and drinks you should avoid, including anything that makes you nauseous. Instead, try eating soup and taking small sips of water throughout the day. In the event you or your child begin to exhibit symptoms of dehydration, be sure to come into our urgent care facility for treatment, especially if the vomiting and diarrhea are caused by an infection.

Q. My child is experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. Is there anything I can give her/him that will help?

A. It can be a very concerning time to see your child suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. Fortunately, there is a specific home treatment that can be administered to help manage the symptoms. First and foremost, do not give your child any solid foods. Instead, feed them applesauce, soup, etc., which should give them a better chance at keeping the food down. Additionally, provide them with plenty of rehydration solutions, such as Pedialyte. If they over the age of four, you can have them regularly sip on water throughout the day as well. As they recover, slowly integrate more solid foods back into their diet.

Q. I believe I ate something bad, which has caused me to have vomiting and diarrhea. How long should I wait before visiting the urgent care?

A. In general, vomiting and diarrhea for any cause, especially for food poisoning, should not last more than 72 hours. In the event you ate something you feel has caused food poisoning, visit urgent care if the symptoms do not improve within 72 hours. Also, if the symptoms become extremely concerning at any point within the first three days, you should also consider urgent care, especially if the vomiting and diarrhea have lead to you becoming dehydrated. While an adequately treated case of vomiting and diarrhea is not extremely concerning, dehydration can cause severe health concerns.

Q. I want to avoid dehydration. What are the warning signs of dehydration that I should watch for?

A. The very symptoms of dehydration often include extreme thirst and dark yellow urine. Additionally, you may experience muscle cramps and a headache before dehydration begins to set in. To be safe, it is encouraged to visit urgent care in the event the early signs of dehydration start to show. More concerning symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, fatigue, and a rapid heartbeat. In the event dehydration leads to any of the more concerning symptoms it is important to properly hydrate as soon as possible and visit urgent care if you are unable to keep fluids down.

Q. Are dehydration symptoms different in babies than it is in adults? What do I do if symptoms of dehydration begin to appear?

A. It is much more challenging to determine symptoms of dehydration during an episode of vomiting and diarrhea in a toddler than an adult. Subsequently, it is important to understand and notice the symptoms if they show up. Most commonly, a baby that has been vomiting and having diarrhea has not urinated in several hours or has very dark urine may suffer from dehydration. Also, check their mouth to see if it is dry and make sure they are secreting tears while crying. In the event they are not, they may be dehydrated. When a baby shows symptoms of dehydration, contact either your pediatrician or visit urgent care if your pediatrician is unavailable or you do not have one.

Q. I need to take my medication, but I keep throwing it back up. What do I need to do?

A. One of the biggest concerns when vomiting and diarrhea with people with a condition that requires them to take medicine daily is the inability to keep the medication down. If this is happening to you, you are not alone. However, it is a concerning scenario that requires medical assistance as soon as possible. If your vomiting and diarrhea does not allow you to keep your medication down, visit a healthcare professional for medical assistance, and they can help you find a way to take your medicine, whether it is through a shot or an IV.


Dehydration Quite simply, dehydration is the act of losing more fluids than you take in, which causes the body not to be able to carry out necessary functions. Dehydration is a concern in individuals who have vomiting and diarrhea.

Food intolerance This occurs after eating food the body does not accept, which causes severe digestive problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. For example, lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance are common.

Emetophobia A phobia centered around an intense fear over the idea of vomiting or witnessing others vomit. Often, those with emetophobia are at an increased risk of vomiting.

Cyclic vomiting syndrome A condition where an individual continually experiences episodes of vomiting without a clear, defined cause, although in some the cause may be apparent.

Irritable bowel syndrome A disorder of the intestine that causes severe constipation and diarrhea. Irritable bowel syndrome is typically a long-term condition that can even last a lifetime.

Crohn’s disease An inflammatory bowel disease that causes severe abdominal pain that often leads to diarrhea. Crohn’s disease can affect anyone, regardless of age.

Gastroenterology A branch of medicine that focuses specifically on the digestive system and conditions related to the digestive system.

Infection A disease caused by the invasion of bacteria or viruses into the body. An infection is a common cause of vomiting and diarrhea and can often be treated with medication.

Rotavirus The most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea in toddlers. The rotavirus is not often dangerous in itself, but it can lead to dehydration, which is especially concerning in toddlers.

Stomach flu An intestinal infection that is famously known for causing severe vomiting and diarrhea. The stomach flu can be contagious and cause a critical level of stomach discomfort.

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