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  • Writer's pictureSarah Nantel


As a nurse, I have dealt with my fair share of vomiting and diarrhea. But unfortunately, just last weekend, I was the one vomiting. And then a few days later, I was the mother of a vomiting child. Within 10 days, all four family members contracted the dreaded ‘stomach flu’. I am happy to report that our household is once again healthy, but I thought it was a good opportunity to share my experience!

Vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms in children and can happen together or alone. Usually, vomiting and diarrhea are caused by a viral infection, also called viral gastroenteritis. People also refer to it as the stomach flu but it has nothing to do with respiratory influenza (flu).

The best way to avoid spreading the virus is to wash hands. Wash your hands often and well. And then once more for good measure! Wash your hands after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, and before handling food. Remember: wash your hands!

I have this pamphlet “Caring for a Child with Vomiting and/or Diarrhea (Children 3 months - 10 years)” from Alberta Health Services in my home and it was a valuable resource for me this week.

I like how this information is separated into Green Zone - Low Risk, Yellow Zone - Intermediate Risk, and Red Zone - High Risk. It is useful in determining the severity of your child’s symptoms: whether your child can stay at home, should see a doctor, or go to the hospital. And it also separates the appropriate treatment required for your child based on which zone they fall.


  • Keep offering fluids even if your child is vomiting. Offering a small amount of fluids frequently will help keep your child hydrated.

  • High sugar drinks like pop, undiluted juice, fruit drinks, iced teas, etc. are not the best choices to rehydrate.

  • Also offer food to your child as tolerated. You don’t necessarily need to offer only BRAT (bananas, rice, apples, toast) diet.

  • Keep track of when your child last urinated (wet diaper) - it is one indicator of hydration level.

  • Seek medical advice if things aren’t getting better, especially for the babies as they can get sicker quickly and severely.

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