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Vomiting and Diarrhea

Most of the time vomiting and diarrhea are caused by “gastroenteritis,” an inflammation in the intestines caused by a virus or bacteria. Mild abdominal cramping may also occur.

How should I care for myself when I have vomiting and diarrhea?

The best approach is to put your stomach and intestines at rest.

It is important to follow a special diet to prevent becoming dehydrated from vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.

  1. Do not eat or drink fluids for two hours after vomiting.
  2. After two hours of resting your stomach, take small sips of clear liquids each hour for a few hours
  3. If no vomiting has occurred start to slowly increase the amount of fluid you are drinking
  4. If vomiting starts again return to step #1
  5. Resting as much as possible helps to decrease diarrhea
  6. Avoid smoking and alcohol

Vomiting and diarrhea may be contagious, so it is important to wash hands well after using the bathroom.

For Diarrhea Only

For diarrhea only, push clear liquids as tolerated. Good examples of clear liquids are as follows:

  • Water, ice chips, popsicles (not creamy)
  • Broth
  • Gatorade
  • Jell-O (plain) or clear fruit juice (non-citrus only)
  • Gingerale

When Vomiting Stops

When vomiting has stopped for 8 hours, and/or diarrhea slows down, begin a bland diet:

  • Bananas
  • Cooked pasta, rice
  • Toast/white bread
  • Applesauce
  • Soup with noodles
  • Oatmeal made with water

Avoid dairy products and meat for at least 36 hours. Also avoid large meals, coffee, alcohol, fatty, fried, greasy foods (hamburgers, hot dogs, hoagies), highly seasoned or spiced foods (pizza, tomato products), salad dressing, oil, butter, and raw vegetables until you feel better. Follow a bland diet for 1 to 2 days.

When to Call a Nurse

Call a nurse if you develop any new prolonged or more severe symptoms of illness:

  • Signs of dehydration such as small amounts of dark urine or no urine for 8 hours, no tears, and/or you become very dizzy when you stand up.
  • If you are vomiting so much you can’t keep anything down for 24 hours.
  • Fever lasting 48 to 72 hours or greater than 101 degrees.
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Continuing headache or neck stiffness
  • Increased stomach pain
  • Diarrhea not getting better in 2 to 3 days
  • Bloody vomit or bowel movement (remember that red liquids can cause red stools or vomit).
  • Or when instructed by your clinician


In an emergency go to Mount Nittany Medical Center or call 911 for an ambulance.

Test Results and Advice Nurse

Send a secure message to the advice nurse via myUHS or call 814-865-4UHS (4847) (Press 3). 


Schedule an appointment online or by calling the UHS.  

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis, or treatment by a healthcare professional.

Approved by the UHS Patient Education Committee Revised 01/2022

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Vomiting and Diarrhea


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