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Vomiting and Dehydration

October 15, 2019


A lot of people get very concerned about vomiting,
is my child dehydratred? How many times can they vomit and not get dehydrated? It turns
out vomiting doesn’t really make you dehydrated because if you think about it, when you vomit
you’re only losing what’s in your stomach and what’s in your stomach isn’t really in
your body yet. Your body is really a tube and the only thing you can lose from your
body when you vomit is what you’ve already put in. So kids can vomit quite a bit and
not become dehydrated. Now that varies depending on how big they are. Little kids get dehydrated
faster than bigger kids so you have a different timeframe for a smaller child versus a larger
child. But all other things being equal, vomiting doesn’t dehydrate you very quickly. As long
as you can get very small sips of clear fluids in and they’re still making urine, which is
really the body’s bottom line for dehydration: when you really are dehydrated you stop making
urine. So if a child is peeing once or twice a day, even with vomiting, that tells you
they’re not terribly dehydrated. They may be a little dry, but nothing that’s an emergency
that would require an IV. Clear liquids for starters, I’m a big fan
of ginger ale, as are my kids. Electrolyte-containing fluids like PediaLyte are helpful. Milk, not
so good, just because it’s a little bit heavier, it’s nasty when it comes up – it curdles in
the stomach and bleehh, you don’t want to clean that up. Fruit juice, straight fruit
juice, if you have diarrhea then that can sometimes make things worse. So sodas, those
tend to be well-tolerated. The key thing is small sips. If the stomach is upset, you don’t
want to dump a lot of stuff in there, just the volume of stuff will cause the stomach
to become queasy, it can just come up. You need to sneak it in there, literally like
a teaspoon at a time, a teaspoon every five to ten minutes. You can usually get through
most vomiting illnesses just by doing that. Sit there in front of the TV with your trashcan,
little thing of ginger ale, all things improve sooner or later.

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