Vomiting is throwing up the stomach's contents. Dry heaves may precede or follow vomiting.
Nausea is when you fell like you're going to throw up.
Diarrhea is the passage of any loose, watery or unformed bowel movements.

Symptoms

  • Vomiting stomach contents
  • Frequent watery, loose stools
  • Cramping or pain in the abdomen
  • Occasional fever

Causes

  • "Stomach flu," which is a viral infection of the intestines
  • Spoiled food, contaminated water, or infections from bacteria or parasites that affect the digestive tract
  • Overuse of alcohol or laxatives
  • A side effect of some medicines
  • Lactose intolerance or a food allergy
  • Emotional upsets or acute stress
  • Eating or drinking too much

Diarrhea is also a symptom of health conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome. It results in irregular bowel habits and pain that are not due to any other bowel disease.

Vomiting is a symptom of serious medical conditions, as well. These include:

  • Labrynthitis, inflammation of an area in the ear that usually results from a respiratory infection
  • A concussion from a head injury
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Hepatitis, inflammation of the liver
  • Meningitis, inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord.

Prevention

  • Wash hands after going to the bathroom and before eating
  • Avoid contact with anyone with "stomach flu"
  • When traveling, find out if you should avoid drinking the water

Self-care

  • Drink clear liquids
  • Avoid milk and milk products for 24-48 hours
  • Gradually return to regular diet, usually within 12 hours - start with foods like bananas, rice, toast, crackers and other high carbohydrate foods
  • Don't smoke or drink alcohol

Treatment

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, but do not take aspirin
  • Try an over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medicine
  • Diagnostic tests may include blood work and/or laboratory study of the stool

Notify or seek medical attention if:

  • Diarrhea lasts more than 48 hours
  • Vomiting bright red blood
  • Fever rises to 100 degrees or higher
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Dehydration develops

Syptoms of dehydration

  • Sunken, dry eyes
  • Dry mouth, tongue and lips
  • No urine or a small amount that is dark yellow
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dry skin
  • Dizziness, confusion, weakness
  • Increase in breathing and heart rate
  • Severe thirst