When to See a Doctor for Vomiting and Diarrhea

Sick young woman leaning on bathroom wall by toilet

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Vomiting and diarrhea can be troublesome symptoms but they are also common with stomach viruses. Most of the time these symptoms don't warrant a trip to the doctor but sometimes things aren't so clear-cut. So how do you know when you should see a doctor for your vomiting or diarrhea and when it's okay to treat it at home? These tips should help.

Call Your Doctor

You may not need to head to the ER, but you should contact your doctor or healthcare provider if you have vomiting or diarrhea and:

  • You are unable to control your symptoms
  • You have diabetes
  • You have these symptoms after traveling
  • You have prolonged changes in your bowel habits
  • Your skin or eyes begin to look yellow
  • Your bowel movements are gray, white or greasy
  • You have signs of dehydration such as no urine output for 12 hours, dizziness or fainting when standing up and exhaustion

Get Help Right Away

You should seek medical attention immediately if you have vomiting or diarrhea and:

  • Severe stomach pain
  • Severe headache
  • You are vomiting blood or have large amounts of blood in your stool
  • Confusion
  • A significant head injury in the past 24 hours

When Kids Are Vomiting

Because children are more susceptible to dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea, your child's healthcare provider should be contacted if your child has vomiting or diarrhea and any of the above problems or:

  • Fever (over 100 rectally if under 3 months, over 102 for children over 3 months)
  • Is less than 6 months old
  • Chronic medical problems or was born prematurely
  • Visible blood in the stool or vomit
  • A substantial amount of vomit or diarrhea
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration (no urine output in 8 hours, sunken eyes, dry or sticky mouth, little or no tears)
  • Change in behavior (increased irritability or lethargy)
  • Vomit that is green or dark yellow

Children, especially infants and babies, are at high risk for dehydration when they have vomiting and diarrhea. If your child is vomiting and can't keep any fluids down, contact her health care provider.

Evaluate your vomiting by taking a step by step look at how it started, what is happening now and what you can do to feel better.

If you are concerned about your vomiting or diarrhea, always consult with your health care provider for further guidance.

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