Emergency advice

Help someone who’s vomiting or has diarrhoea:

  1. Reassure them.
  2. Get them to sit down.
  3. Encourage them to drink and eat plain food when they can.

What causes diarrhoea and vomiting?

Diarrhoea and vomiting are usually caused by irritation to the digestive system.

Vomiting and diarrhoea can occur separately or together, but both can cause the body to lose vital fluids and salts. The aim is to prevent dehydration by giving frequent sips of water, even if the casualty is vomiting.

Cleanliness and good hand hygiene help prevent the spread of infectious diarrhoea.

Signs and symptoms

Look for:

  • feeling sick
  • vomiting, and later diarrhoea
  • stomach pains
  • fever.

What to do

  1. Reassure the casualty. Get them to sit down and make sure they are comfortable. 

    • If the casualty is vomiting, give them a warm damp cloth to wipe their face and keep reassuring them. 
  2. When the casualty has stopped vomiting, give them sips of water or unsweetened fruit juice. You can also give them an oral rehydration solution.

  3. When the casualty is feeling hungry again, advise them to eat foods that are easily digested, such as bread, pasta or potatoes for the first 24 hours.

    • If you are concerned about a casualty's condition, particularly if they are a child or an older person or if the vomiting and diarrhoea persists, seek medical advice.

Related first aid advice

Food poisoning

Food poisoning can be caused by eating contaminated food, usually when it hasn't been cooked properly. Find out what to look for and what to do.

Swallowed poisons

Poisons are substances that can cause damage if too much is absorbed by the body. Swallowed poisons include chemicals, fungi and berries. Find out what to look for and what to do.

Alcohol poisoning

When someone drinks too much alcohol they can suffer from alcohol poisoning. Find out what to look for and what to do.

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