Diarrhoea, Vomiting & Dehydration

Diarrhoea and vomiting at the same time can be caused by an infection and should be taken very seriously, especially in the case of babies and young children.

The rapid and consistent loss of fluids from the body may cause dehydration which is serious and requires attention. You should try to rehydrate as quickly and regularly as you are able. If possible use oral rehydration fluids available from your local pharmacy or via a prescription from a GP. Likewise, vomiting can have many causes. There might be more to your diarrhoea or upset stomach than the leftover guacamole you found in the fridge. Could it be a reaction to a prescription drug? an allergy? germs from recent travel? or a more serious condition?


The most common cause of diarrhoea in adults and children is a bowel infection also known as gastroenteritis, but there can be a range of causes. The severity and duration are often the biggest distinction. Diarrhoea that lasts a few days is typically considered acute and likely caused by a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection. Chronic diarrhoea can last for weeks and indicate something serious like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

If you are suffering with diarrhoea, you may be suffering from:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Sickness and vomiting

The excessive loss of water from your body might cause you to become dehydrated, which can be serious and requires treatment.

Signs of dehydration in children can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Loose or pale skin
  • Inability to urinate
  • Cold hands or feet

Signs of dehydration in adults can include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Dry tongue
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite


In adults and young children, vomiting isn’t uncommon but it shouldn’t last more than a couple of days. If the vomiting lasts more than 24 hours for children and 48 hours for adults then you should see a doctor.

You should also see a doctor if:

  • You are unable to keep fluids down
  • Your vomit is green
  • You have lost weight since the vomiting began
  • You are frequently vomiting
  • You are experiencing symptoms of dehydration as described above