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Should I seek medical care for a child who has diarrhea or is vomiting?

If your child has diarrhea or is vomiting, it may be due to food poisoning, a stomach virus or other common ailments, and you may need to seek medical care. If your child has a low-grade fever and/or vomits once, call a doctor to be seen the next day.

If vomiting is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it may be indicative of a larger issue. Visit an emergency room (ER) if your child is younger than three months and/or:
  • has been vomiting repetitively
  • is not urinating or wetting diapers
  • is lethargic
  • is crying nonstop or is inconsolable
  • has a high fever (greater than 100.4 for children younger than three months or greater than 102.2 for children older than three months)
If diarrhea is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it may be indicative of a larger issue. Seek ER care if your child:
  • has blood in diarrhea
  • experiences dry mouth
  • has sunken eyes
  • is not urinating or wetting diapers
  • is lethargic
  • is crying nonstop or is inconsolable
  • has a high fever (greater than 100.4 for children younger than three months or greater than 102.2 for children older than three months)
A healthcare provider should be contacted if:
  • Diarrhea or vomiting persists for more than a few days.
  • The child is not replacing lost liquids or cannot retain liquids.
  • The child has not had a wet diaper in three or more hours or, if older, has not had any urine output for more than six hours.
  • The child has a high fever.
  • The child has bloody or black stools.
  • The child is unusually sleepy, drowsy, unresponsive, or irritable.
  • The child cries without tears or has a dry mouth.
  • The child has a sunken appearance to the abdomen, eyes, or cheeks, or, in a very young infant, has a sunken soft spot at the top of the head.
  • The child has skin that remains “tented” if pinched and released. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.