FIRST AID: Recognising and dealing with vomiting and diarrhoea

St John Ambulance has advice on how to tream someone suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea
St John Ambulance has advice on how to tream someone suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea
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St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity has teamed up with The News to bring you some simple, but life-saving, first aid tips.

This week – recognising and dealing with vomiting and diarrhoea.

These problems are usually due to irritation of the digestive system. Diarrhoea and vomiting can be caused by a number of different organisms, including viruses, bacteria and parasites.

They usually result from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water, but infection can be passed from person-to-person.

Cleanliness and good hygiene help prevent infectious diarrhoea.

Vomiting and diarrhoea may occur either separately or together and both conditions can cause the body to lose vital fluids and salts, resulting in dehydration.

When they occur together, the risk of dehydration is increased and can be serious, especially in infants, young children and elderly people.

The aim of treatment is to prevent dehydration by giving frequent sips of water or unsweetened fruit juice, even if the casualty is vomiting.

Rehydration powder, which is added to water, provides the correct balance of water and salt to replace those lost through the vomiting and diarrhoea.

Follow these simple steps to recognise these conditions and to help:

n Reassure the casualty if he is vomiting and give him a warm damp cloth to wipe his face.

n Help him to sit down and when the vomiting stops give him water or unsweetened fruit juice to sip slowly and often.

n When the casualty is hungry again, advise him to eat easily digested foods such as pasta, bread or potatoes for the first 24 hours. Do not give the casualty anti-diarrhoea medicines.

If you are concerned about a casualty’s condition, particularly if the vomiting and diarrhoea is persistent, or if the casualty is a young child or older person, seek medical advice.

For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and the website,, offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice.

As the nation’s leading first aid charity, St John Ambulance believes that nobody should die because they needed first aid and didn’t get it. St John Ambulance teaches people first aid so that they can be the difference.

For more information about first aid courses please call 0303 003 0101.