Diarrhea and/or vomiting are usually caused by a virus infection of the intestine. This virus is contagious. The symptoms usually last about 3-5 days but sometimes may last 10-12 days. There is no effective and safe treatment in children. The virus may be associated with fever, decrease in appetite and abdominal cramps.

The main complication of this virus is dehydration. It is important to regularly check for dehydration signs such as:
• Sunken eye balls and no tears while crying
• Dry tongue
• Decreased urination
• Lethargy
• Depressed soft spot in infants
• Weight loss is most helpful if a recent weight measurement is available

Other warning signs include bilious (greenish) vomiting and/or bloody stools.

Most children are only mildly or moderately dehydrated and can be treated at home by drinking an oral electrolyte solution for several hours followed by a semi-restricted diet. If the child is severely dehydrated (several of the above signs are present) or getting worse on an oral regimen, the child may need to be hospitalized for intravenous fluids.

1. For the first 4-6 hours give your child an oral electrolyte solution (Pedialyte or a Pedialyte popsicle). Start with one tsp (5 ml) every 2-5 minutes and advance slowly as tolerated: One Tbsp (15 ml or ½ oz) every 10-15 minutes, then one Oz (30 ml) every 20-30 minutes, and so on. Children who are dehydrated usually do not refuse Pedialyte. The more dehydrated your child is, the more likely he/she will drink the fluid. If you are nursing, offer the oral electrolyte solution between breast feedings.

2. After the initial 4-6 hours, resume regular formula or full strength milk (depending on the age of the child) in addition to the oral electrolyte solutions. Continue to offer small but frequent portions as tolerated. Please do not force feed your child; but if your child wants to eat, provide a diet rich in rice, baked or mashed potatoes, chicken broth or soup, bread and cereals. Lean meat, yogurt, bananas, saltine crackers, pretzels, cooked carrots and applesauce are also well tolerated. Avoid fried, spicy or greasy foods. Also avoid sweetened tea, ALL juices, sodas and carbonated beverages.