When you have gastroenteritis, your body eliminates large quantities of water and mineral salts that are essential to your body’s proper functioning.
It is therefore important to drink plenty of fluids and to replenish mineral salts to prevent dehydration and promote recovery. To do this, you must drink more fluids, such as water. You or your child can also use a rehydration solution. It is best to use commercial rehydration solutions. Homemade rehydration solutions are an alternative.
If your child is breast or bottle fed, they can continue to drink their usual milk (breast milk, baby formula or milk that contains 3.25% fat).
Commercial rehydration solutions
To rehydrate, it is best to use a commercial rehydration solution, such as Gastrolyte. Commercial rehydration solutions contain the ideal proportion of mineral salts your body needs to recover. They allow the body to absorb fluids better so that you get plenty of fluids. They also replace mineral salts lost due to diarrhea or vomiting.
These solutions are available over the counter at pharmacies.
Homemade rehydration solutions
If you are unable to get a commercial rehydration solution, you can prepare a homemade solution yourself. Mix the following ingredients:
- 360 mL (12 oz.) of unsweetened, pure orange juice
- 600 mL (20 oz.) of cooled boiled water
- 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp.) of salt
You need to use exactly the quantities indicated in order to avoid making your condition worse.
To find out how much solution you should drink and when, call Info-Santé 811. A nurse will tell you exactly what to do depending on your or your child’s condition.
Instructions for rehydration and using rehydration solutions
Follow the rehydration and dietary instructions for the symptoms of diarrhea without dehydration or diarrhea with dehydration.
Diarrhea with dehydration
Symptoms of diarrhea with dehydration are:
- increased thirst,
- decreased urine output,
- dry mouth.
Use a rehydration solution. To find out how much solution you should drink and when, call Info-Santé 811. A nurse will tell you exactly what to do depending on your or your child’s condition.
- Stop eating temporarily (for about 3 to 4 hours).
- When the vomiting subsides, gradually start eating again: eat small amounts of food at a time, but eat more often.
- Go to the page Foods to eat when you have gastroenteritis to find out which foods are best.
Diarrhea without dehydration
- Drink more fluids. You can drink water, but if you are not eating, have a rehydration solution too. If your child is breast or bottle fed, they can drink their usual milk
- If you are using a commercial rehydration solution, follow the instructions on the package
- If you are using a homemade rehydration solution, call Info-Santé 811 to find out how much solution you should drink and when. A nurse will tell you exactly what to do depending on your or your child’s condition
- If you or your child are vomiting, drink small amounts of fluids more often
Eat several small meals. Go to the page Foods to eat when you have gastroenteritis to find out which foods are best.
For people at risk of complications
If you or your child are among those people likely to experience complications, call Info-Santé 811. A nurse will give you rehydration and dietary instructions that are appropriate for your or your child’s situation.
Last update: January 21, 2020