Vomiting & Diarrhoea

Gastroenteritis is a very common condition that causes diarrhoea and vomiting. It's usually caused by a bacterial or viral tummy bug. It affects people of all ages but is most common in children.

Gastroenteritis can be very unpleasant, but it usually clears up by itself within a week. You can normally look after yourself or your child at home until you're feeling better.


You don't usually need to get medical advice 

When you experience symptoms of gastroenteritis.Try to avoid going to your GP as gastroenteritis can spread to others very easily.

Call NHS 111 or your GP if you're concerned or need any advice.

If you experience sudden diarrhoea and vomiting, the best thing to do is stay at home until you're feeling better. There's not always a specific treatment, so you have to let the illness run its course.


To help ease your symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration–You need to drink more than usual to replace the fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea. Water is best, but you could also try fruit juice and soup. Initially drink this in small sips to prevent vomiting.
  • Take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • If you feel like eating, try small amounts of plain foods, such as soup, rice, pasta and bread.
  • Rehydration drinks made from sachets bought from pharmacies are helpful if you have signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth or dark urine.
  • Wash your hands regularly to avoid passing the illness on
  • Stay off work, school or nursery for at least 48 hours after the symptoms have settled to avoid passing it on.

It is advisable to seek medical advice if:

  • You or your child have symptoms of severe dehydration, such as persistent dizziness, only passing small amounts of urine or no urine at all, or if you're losing consciousness
  • You have bloody diarrhoea
  • You're vomiting constantly and are unable to keep down any fluids
  • The vomit is bright green in colour
  • You have signs of a more serious illness, such as a high fever (over 38ºC or 100.4ºF), shortness of breath, rapid breathing, a stiff neck, a rash that doesn't fade when you roll a glass over it or a bulging fontanelle in babies (the soft spot on a baby's head)
  • Your symptoms haven't started to improve after a few days
  • In the last few weeks you've returned from a part of the world with poor sanitation
  • You have a serious underlying condition, such as kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease or a weak immune system, and have diarrhoea and vomiting.

More Information

For more information on vomiting and diarrhoea visit the NHS choices website by clicking the link below:

For more information on dehydration visit the NHS choices website by clicking the link below:


Content adapted from NHS Choices