When to Use the ER – Severe or Persistent Vomiting or Diarrhea

When to Use the ER – Severe or Persistent Vomiting or Diarrhea

One of the most common cases in Emergency Rooms is of people with a severe stomach ache. This is usually accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea or even both. While at home, vomiting or diarrhea can seem to be a normal case that can be easily countered using simple over-the-counter drugs or by letting the condition get better by itself. This makes knowing when to visit the Emergency Room to seek emergency medical care can be quite a challenge. This post by Bellaire ER means to give more insight on how to know that your persistent or severe vomiting and diarrhea is an emergency room case.

Stomach Illness the main cause of vomiting and diarrhea


Stomach illnesses can either be as a result of viruses or bacteria. The viral illnesses are the ones often responsible for nausea and vomiting; although some bacterial illnesses result in vomiting too. Most of these viruses are self-limited meaning that the vomiting should wear off pretty fast. Therefore, if the vomiting is severe, that is a warning signal that you need to pay attention to. Vomiting usually results in a high degree of discomfort and ultimately dehydration due to the loss of body fluid.

Prolonged vomiting usually gives rise to another emergency complication of bleeding. The huge amounts of force may cause you to start vomiting blood which is quite dangerous to your health. When you notice that there are traces of blood in your vomit, do not wait any further. You should seek medical attention immediately. The blood might be red but signs of coffee ground appearance or a maroon color, also, hint to your vomiting blood.


Diarrhea is, even more than vomiting, a very unpleasant that to experience. It is a condition that almost everyone has experienced. Usually, it lasts for a couple of hours or days, but when you notice that the diarrhea shows no signs of slowing down, then that should be a cause for concern.
Acute diarrhea is usually caused by plastic, bacterial or viral agents. When either of these agents enters the body through contaminated food or water, the body usually tries to flash them out. At this time, the intestines become inflamed and cannot absorb fluid and digested food as efficiently as it normally does. The result is runny stools. Normally, one can experience diarrhea from a few hours up to three or four days. But when it extends beyond that period, then you should consider getting emergency treatment.

Severe Vomiting and Diarrhea

When your diarrhea is associated with your vomiting, you will be facing a major risk of dehydration. One thing that is common between the two conditions is that they result in massive loss of body fluid. Things get even worse if one starts noticing blood in their vomit or diarrhea. If the two conditions occur to you at the same time, you will be losing fluids at a much faster rate hence dehydration will creep in even faster.

The main symptoms of dehydration include sunken cheeks, having sticky saliva, unable to urinate or having dark yellow urine, feeling weak and having dry or wrinkled skin. Other signs that indicate that you should visit the Emergency room are if you have a high fever, if you have mucus and worms in your stool and if the forceful vomiting results in a head injury. If dehydration is not combated fast enough, it could lead to volume loss and electrolyte disorders which yields the feelings of dizziness and weakness. Things could get worse, and the patient ends up fainting and going into a coma, or even worse, dying.


As the main concern with persistent vomiting and diarrhea, the treatment usually involves the addition of fluids into the body. The patient is encouraged to take plenty of water to make for the lost fluids as a result of vomiting or diarrhea. While fruit juice might seem appealing, it is advisable to go easy on fruit juices as they can result in gas and diarrhea if consumed in large quantities. Water, soup, and tea are the best options.

In case of severe dehydration, the Emergency Room usually administers IV fluids to patients.

Using over the counter drugs

Going to an Emergency Room is more costly compared to purchasing over the counter drug. Drugs stores are usually characterized by a variety of drugs designated to combat vomiting and diarrhea. It can be quite tempting to get them given that most offer a promise of fast action. It is advisable that you keep of these drugs if your condition is severe and seek emergency treatment instead. In fact, utilization of some of these over-the-counter drugs may cause more harm than good especially if the cause of the diarrhea is a parasite or a bacterial infection.

While vomiting and diarrhea might seem to conditions that are quite obvious and that can happen to anyone, it is important to know when to draw the line to avoid putting your health at risk. If you notice that the associated symptoms don’t seem to subside within a couple of days, go to the ER immediately.