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Vomiting self care

If you have been vomiting (being sick) there are a number of things you can do to help manage the condition. Here is some self-help information:

  • Eat normally – do not starve yourself. If you are hungry, eat regular meals.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene – you can do this by ensuring that you and your family always wash your hands with soap and warm water before eating or handling food and after using the toilet, cleaning contaminated surfaces or handling garbage.
  • Clean surfaces – washing with detergent and water is a very effective way of removing germs from surfaces that you have touched.
  • Do not share personal items – use your own personal items, such as towels, toothbrushes, flannels or face cloths.
  • Food preparation – avoid handling or preparing food for others after you have been vomiting to avoid spreading germs.
  • To prevent the spread of infection, do not go swimming in a public pool for two weeks after your last episode of vomiting.
  • While you are unwell you should keep away from people who can easily pick up infections, such as newborn babies, pregnant women, older people and those with a lowered immune system.
  • If you have been vomiting, if you are in pain, get advice on medicines you can take.
  • Antibiotics are not usually given to treat diarrhoea or vomiting.

Avoid dehydration

You lose a lot of fluid when you have been vomiting, so it’s important to stay hydrated.

  • Re-hydration drinks are available over-the-counter from your local pharmacy and from some supermarkets. These drinks provide the correct balance of water, sugar and salt that your body needs. Follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • If children refuse to drink or can’t tolerate rehydration drinks, try diluting fruit juice or soft drink with water.
  • Sports drinks and energy drinks should be avoided as a rehydration fluid option. They have high sugar content that does not assist with rehydration.

Breastfeeding

You should continue to breastfeed your baby if you have vomited, but you should make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid getting dehydrated. Maintain good hygiene and speak to your midwife or doctor for further advice.

Contraceptive pill

Vomiting can affect the contraceptive pill (both the combined pill and mini pill). It can make the pill less effective at preventing pregnancy. Extra care must be taken if you wish to avoid pregnancy, such as using condoms. The effectiveness of the pill may not be back to normal for at least one week following diarrhoea and vomiting, making it necessary to continue extra precautions.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your vomiting, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

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