Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea: What Should Actually Send You To Immediate Care?

Should I call my doctor?” 

Do I need to go to urgent care?” 

Can I just ride this out on my own at home?” 

When your body starts act­ing out of the ordi­nary, you might find your­self ask­ing these ques­tions. It can be hard to tell if an unusu­al symp­tom is just a part of life, or when it actu­al­ly requires med­ical atten­tion or imme­di­ate care. 

This is espe­cial­ly true when it comes to symp­toms like vom­it­ing or diar­rhea — some­times they are harm­less, and some­times they are signs of some­thing more serious. 

Here’s how you can know what kind of med­ical atten­tion is best based on your symptoms.

More than 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple received emer­gency med­ical care for diar­rhea, nau­sea, or vom­it­ing in 2020.

Should I Go to Imme­di­ate Care for Diarrhea? 

While many might feel embar­rassed to talk about their bow­el move­ments, diar­rhea is a nor­mal part of life. It can be caused by every­thing from food your stom­ach doesn’t agree with to com­mon virus­es like the flu to par­a­sites in food or water.

Most adults will have acute diar­rhea once a year. Now, before you think that num­ber can’t pos­si­bly be cor­rect, acute diar­rhea is defined as three or more instances of loose stools in one day and typ­i­cal­ly last­ing a few days. 

Often, acute diar­rhea isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a cause for alarm and will sort itself out at home. But in some cas­es, it can be an indi­ca­tor of a big­ger health concern.

You should con­tact your health­care provider if your diar­rhea is also accom­pa­nied by: 

  • A fever of 102 degrees or higher
  • Intense pain in your rec­tum or abdomen (for adults)
  • Stools that are bloody, tar­ry, black, or con­tain pus

If you are expe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms dur­ing nor­mal, week­day hours, call your pri­ma­ry care provider first. They might encour­age you to come into the office or direct you to imme­di­ate care. But, when you aren’t feel­ing well out­side of reg­u­lar appoint­ment hours, imme­di­ate care is there when you need it. 

Sched­ule an appoint­ment with a Duly Imme­di­ate Care Center.

Sched­ule an appoint­ment with a Duly Imme­di­ate Care Center.

Diar­rhea Guid­ance for Chil­dren and Infants 

Diar­rhea is com­mon in chil­dren, but they can be much more like­ly to expe­ri­ence dehy­dra­tion — which can make diar­rhea par­tic­u­lar­ly harm­ful to infants and new­borns. Call your child’s physi­cian if: 

  • Your child’s diar­rhea lasts more than 24 hours
  • Your child is hav­ing diar­rhea every 1 to 2 hours or more often
  • Your child is expe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms of dehydration

Should I Go to Imme­di­ate Care for Nau­sea or Vomiting?

Like diar­rhea, throw­ing up is a messy part of life, and it can be caused by many dif­fer­ent fac­tors. From food poi­son­ing to morn­ing sick­ness to rid­ing a big roller coast­er, there are plen­ty of nor­mal rea­sons you might feel nauseous. 

But, also like diar­rhea, some­times vom­it­ing can be a sign of some­thing more seri­ous, like an ulcer or a block­age in your intestines. 

You should call your provider if:

  • You vom­it more than 3 times in 24 hours 
  • Vom­it­ing lasts for longer than 1 day 
  • You can’t keep flu­ids down for more than 12 hours 
  • You also have a headache, stom­ach ache, or stiff neck 
  • You haven’t been able to uri­nate for 8 hours

What Should I Actu­al­ly Go to Imme­di­ate Care For? 

While nau­sea, vom­it­ing, and diar­rhea might not always send you run­ning to imme­di­ate care, it’s good to know when to seek med­ical atten­tion for the symp­toms you’re experiencing.

Vom­it­ing and diar­rhea can also be a symp­tom of oth­er health issues. Depend­ing on what oth­er symp­toms you have. In addi­tion, this should help deter­mine what kind of med­ical atten­tion you seek. Here are some com­mon con­di­tions that vom­it­ing, and diar­rhea can accom­pa­ny — and who you should see about them: 

Norovirus — Call your pri­ma­ry care provider if you are experiencing*:

  • Diar­rhea or vomiting
  • Stom­ach pain, headache, or body aches
  • Fever

* There’s no known treat­ment for norovirus, how­ev­er, your provider can rec­om­mend ways to rest at home and stay hydrated.

Kid­ney stones — Go to imme­di­ate care if you are experiencing:

  • Vom­it­ing
  • Intense sharp pains in your back, side, low­er abdomen, or groin
  • Urine that has red, pink, or brown blood in it
  • Pain while uri­nat­ing, a con­stant need to uri­nate, or dif­fi­cul­ty urinating

Appen­dici­tis — Go to the emer­gency room if you are experiencing:

  • Vom­it­ing or diarrhea
  • Pain in your low­er right abdomen that gets worse over time and depend­ing on how you move
  • Pain in your bel­ly or side that feels dif­fer­ent than any oth­er kind of pain you’ve expe­ri­enced before 
  • Loss of appetite 

Vis­it a Duly Imme­di­ate Care Loca­tion Near You 

Health issues don’t real­ly care about your sched­ule, and imme­di­ate care can be a great option when:

  • You can’t see your reg­u­lar provider 
  • You notice signs of dehy­dra­tion in your­self or your child
  • Your vom­it­ing, diar­rhea, or nau­sea are paired with symp­toms of fever, or pain in your abdomen 

When you are expe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms that are out of the norm, give us a call, sched­ule a vis­it, or just walk in, and we can ensure you will receive the care you need.

Also check out: Should I Go to Imme­di­ate Care Quiz.

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  • I love people and I love medicine. Assisting my patients with their body, mind and spiritual concerns is one of life's greatest privileges. I love personally getting to know them. I enjoy coming along side them, assisting those I see in decision-making related to their health and care. It requires humility, empathy, compassion and constant learning.