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Health Service

Vassar College

Gastroenteritis (nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea) is usually caused by a virus and resolves in 2-5 days. It often starts suddenly. During this time the stomach and intestine may not be able to digest and process food properly. Your digestive tract needs to rest and this is best accomplished by sipping on liquids and small quantities foods with sugars and starches. As symptoms of the illness subside, gradually advance the diet toward a normal diet as tolerated.

Dietary recommendations for vomiting and diarrhea

  • In the first 12 to 24 hours, sip clear liquids only. Frequent small amounts are best.
  • Clear liquids include: Gatorade, herbal teas, popsicle, bullion, broth, jello, water or ice chips, caffeine-free carbonated beverages (ginger ale and 7-up), apple juice.
  • In the next 12 to 24 hours, add frequent small amounts of: toast, soda crackers, rice, soup (not creamed), pretzels, banana, applesauce, white potato (no butter or sour cream), noodles.
  • After 2 to 3 days, if you continue to improve, you may add more foods. Do not rush back to a full, regular diet. Avoid the following for several days to a week: milk products, raw fruits and vegetables, spicy foods or fatty foods (including gravies), alcohol, caffeine, nicotine. Note: If vomiting or diarrhea reoccurs, go back a stage and advance more slowly.
  • Over-the-counter medications that may help include Pepto Bismol, Kaopectate, and Immodium. Be sure to follow the label directions.
  • When to seek medical help: If you develop a fever over 100 degrees, severe abdominal pain, faintness, bloody bowel movements or cannot keep fluids down for greater than 12 hours, seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible.