Gastroenteritis Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on October 14, 2019

Call 911 if:

  • The person is in shock from severe dehydration (faints, can't walk, is confused or is having trouble breathing)

Know the Signs of an Emergency:

Dehydration with the following symptoms should be evaluated and treated in an emergency room:

  • Little to no urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Lack of tears
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Lack of alertness
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Muscle weakness

Signs of food poisoning from eating a canned food:

1. Prevent Dehydration

  • Give a child an oral rehydration solution. Call your health care provider for age-appropriate dosing specifics.
  • Give an adult as much clear fluid as possible.
  • The person should drink fluids slowly in frequent, small amounts. Drinking too much too fast can worsen nausea.

2. When to Call a Doctor

Seek medical help if:

  • Vomiting in an adult or a child age 2 or older lasts more than 1 day or a fever or severe diarrhea (large amounts of loose stool every 1 to 2 hours) lasts more than 2 days.
  • A child under age 2 has vomiting or diarrhea for more than 12 hours or has a fever with vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Vomit or diarrhea turns bloody or tarry.
  • The person has kidney, liver, or heart disease and must restrict fluid intake.
  • The person develops sudden, severe abdominal pain.
  • Dehydration symptoms develop.
  • Symptoms fail to resolve after a week.

3. Follow Up

  • Gradually ease food back into the person's diet.
  • Start with bland, easy-to-digest food such as crackers, bananas, toast, rice, and chicken.
  • Avoid dairy, caffeine, and alcohol until recovery is complete.
  • If medical treatment is necessary, the person may receive fluids intravenously and anti-nausea medications.