Welcome to the OutUK series looking at gay men and their health brought to you in association with the NHS website.
Each week we'll tackle a different topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We'll have features and advice on everything from relationships, sexual health, mental and physical conditions and how to stay fit. You can follow any of links provided below for more information direct from the NHS website, or view any of our Previous A to Z Features.
You should also know that OutUK has produced a special report about: Coronavirus Covid-19.

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This Week - V : Vomiting & Diarrhoea

Vomiting and diarrhoea are common amongst adult men. They're often caused by a stomach bug and should stop in a few days.

The advice is the same if you have vomiting and diarrhoea together or separately.

How to treat vomiting and diarrhoea yourself

Vomiting and diarrhoea can usually be treated at home. The most important thing is to have lots of fluids to avoid dehydration.


  • stay at home and get plenty of rest

  • drink lots of fluids, such as water or squash - take small sips if you feel sick

  • eat when you feel able to - it may help to avoid foods that are fatty or spicy

  • take paracetamol if you're in discomfort


  • do not have fruit juice or fizzy drinks - they can make diarrhoea worse

  • do not take aspirin

How long vomiting and diarrhoea last

In adult men:

  • diarrhoea usually stops within 5 to 7 days
  • vomiting usually stops in 1 or 2 days

Vomiting and diarrhoea can spread easily

Stay off work until you've not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least 2 days.

If you have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to do your normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you feel better.

To help avoid spreading an infection:

  • wash your hands with soap and water frequently
  • wash any clothing or bedding that has poo or vomit on it separately on a hot wash
  • clean toilet seats, flush handles, taps, surfaces and door handles every day
  • do not prepare food for other people, if possible
  • do not share towels, flannels, cutlery or utensils
  • do not use a swimming pool until at least 48 hours after your symptoms stop

A pharmacist can help with vomiting and diarrhoea

Speak to a pharmacist if:

  • you have signs of dehydration, such as dark, smelly pee or peeing less than usual
  • you're an older person, have a weakened immune system, or have other health conditions that increase your risk of dehydration
  • you need to stop diarrhoea for a few hours

They may recommend:

  • oral rehydration powder that you mix with water to make a drink
  • medicine to stop diarrhoea for a few hours, like loperamide (not suitable for children under 12)

Find a pharmacy

Call 111 now if:

  • you still have signs of dehydration after using oral rehydration sachets
  • you keep being sick and cannot keep fluid down
  • you have bloody diarrhoea or bleeding from the bottom
  • you have diarrhoea for more than 7 days or vomiting for more than 2 days

111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.

Call 999 or go to A&E if you :

  • vomit blood or have vomit that looks like ground coffee
  • have green vomit (adults)
  • have yellow-green or green vomit (children)
  • may have swallowed something poisonous
  • have a stiff neck and pain when looking at bright lights
  • have a sudden, severe headache
  • have a sudden, severe tummy ache
  • have blue, grey, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue - on brown or black skin this may be easier to see on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
  • are having severe difficulty breathing, or taking lots of quick, short breaths
  • are confused or not responding as usual
What we mean by severe pain
Severe pain:
  • always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
  • you cannot sleep
  • it's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
Moderate pain:
  • always there
  • makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
  • you can manage to get up, wash or dress
Mild pain:
  • comes and goes
  • is annoying but does not stop you doing daily activities

Causes of vomiting and diarrhoea

The most common causes of vomiting and diarrhoea are:

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We'll have more information and advice next week on another topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We have covered many subjects in this series and you can catch up with all of our Previous A to Z Features.

If you want to find out more about this week's subject you can visit the Original article on the NHS website. If you are worried by any aspect of your health make sure you go and see your doctor or book an appointment at your local clinic.

Photos: LightFieldStudios and one of VladOrlov, Stockcube, darak77, ajr_images or rawpixel.com.


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