Viruses, bacteria, parasites and foods that are difficult to digest are common culprits in childhood vomiting and diarrhea. These illnesses can be dangerous for a child because dehydration can occur very quickly.

Watch for signs
"Dehydration occurs when too much fluid is lost from the body," says Dr Donna Persaud, assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "If a child has had several bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, he or she will need to drink fluids to replace those lost." Indications of dehydration include: dark urine, thirst, irritability, not urinating as often as usual, decreased tears, decreased activity, weight loss, dry mouth, sunken eyes, skin that is not as springy as usual and a sunken soft spot in babies younger than 18 months.

To replace lost fluids, Persaud says, offer a sip or two of oral rehydration solutions made for children every five to 10 minutes. These drinks or popsicles contain electrolytes and sugars to help replace lost body fluids. Always consult your pediatrician when vomiting or diarrhea is prolonged.

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