Vomiting in Kids – Types, Causes & Treatment

Vomiting is most often a symptom of some underlying condition. While vomiting helps in getting rid of undigested food, you should be concerned if you notice frequent vomiting in your child. Sure, the stomach is being cleaned the natural way, but frequent bouts of vomiting should get you worried. During a vomiting bout, your kid will expel the contents of his stomach through the mouth. There can be many reasons for vomiting like gastritis, food poisoning, overeating and injury to the head, which should be investigated and treated in a timely manner.

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Video: Vomiting in Kids – Types, Causes and Treatment

Types of Vomiting Your Child Can Experience

Your child can experience the following types of vomiting:

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1. Posseting

If you are breastfeeding your child, it is common for the baby to throw up tiny amounts of milk immediately after every feed.

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2. Projectile Vomiting

When your baby brings the contents of her stomach forcefully out, it is known as projectile vomiting. Although the volume may seem quite large, the vomit generally consists only of the last feed your baby has had. This kind of vomit may happen intermittently but can be a matter of concern if it happens after every feed.

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3. Reflux

Young kids generally face this kind of vomiting. This happens when the valve at the top of the baby’s stomach opens up unintentionally. This causes the stomach contents to travel in a reverse manner up the oesophagus/food pipe. Reflux in babies is usually harmless and will stop by the time they begin sitting upright or walking.

Causes of Vomiting in Children

The following are some of the common reasons that could cause vomiting in children:

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1. Allergy to Certain Foods

Your child could be allergic to certain foods like milk, wheat, eggs, fish or peanuts and this could cause a reaction when he consumes it. He could experience severe abdominal pain and this could be followed by nausea and vomiting.

2. Gastroenteritis

Children often feel like vomiting when they are affected by this infection. Bacteria, virus and parasites are primary causes of gastroenteritis in children and can lead to diarrhoea.

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3. Digestive Problems

If your child has an infected appendix or a blockage in his digestive system, he can suffer from vomiting. Stomach acid reflux is also one of the causes of vomiting in children.

4. Food Poisoning

This can cause severe nausea and vomiting, which leads to dehydration. Food poisoning is often the result of the harmful bacteria present in stale or under-cooked meat, poultry or fish. When you suspect food poisoning, look out for common signs like nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea in your child.

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5. Stress and Emotional Upheavals

If you have recently moved to a new city or if your child is now attending a different school, these changes can cause excessive stress. Your kid may also feel stressed before or during exams, while competing in debates/competitions or while interacting with new people. This situation is often the cause of nausea and vomiting in children.

6. Flu and Other Sicknesses

Seasonal allergies, stomach acid reflux, swine flu and ear infections are some diseases that can induce vomiting in young children. Appendicitis causes severe abdominal pain which could lead to vomiting in young kids. The appendix may have to be removed in such cases and vomiting could stop. Labyrinthitis (ear infection) leads to extreme dizziness and this spinning sensation is a common cause for vomiting in kids.

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7. Brain Conditions

Quite often it is seen that when a child undergoes an emotional trauma (death in the family or divorce or separation of parents), it leads to excessive vomiting. Brain tumours cause swelling of the brain and this pressure is the reason for vomiting in children.

Symptoms That May Accompany Vomiting in Kids

Parents should watch out for the following signs and symptoms in children, along with vomiting, so the cause can be determined and treated accordingly.

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  1. Severe headaches
  2. Nausea
  3. Increased heartbeat
  4. Pale skin
  5. Exhaustion and listlessness
  6. Low appetite
  7. Dehydration
  8. Drooling or spitting
  9. Irritability
  10. Diarrhoea
  11. Low-grade fever
  12. Giddiness
  13. Fussiness and sleepiness
  14. Abdominal pain or swelling
  15. Frequent retching (attempting to vomit forcibly)

Dehydration is a prominent and noticeable side effect of vomiting in children and the common symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Too much sleep
  • Gaunt eyes
  • Less or no tears
  • Tiredness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Deep, hurried breathing
  • Reduced rate of urination
  • Reduction in diapers wet in a day
  • Damp hands and feet

Diagnosis

Your doctor will carry out detailed scrutiny of the child’s condition when you visit his clinic. He will need answers to when the vomiting began, the number of times the child vomited and the food intake prior to the vomit. This will help him to diagnose your child’s condition properly, so make sure you provide the necessary answers.

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In addition to the external examination the doctor carries out, he will also suggest the below mentioned medical tests to complete his diagnosis. These tests include:

1. X-ray of the Abdomen

This x-ray is useful in the identification of any blockages or tears that may have occurred in your kid’s digestive system. It proves to be a valuable guide to the doctor in ascertaining the cause of the vomiting.

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2. CT of the Abdomen

This test is carried out to check for the presence of a tumour or appendicitis. Clear images of the child’s abdomen are taken using the computer and the x-ray machine.

3. Blood Tests

This is the first test carried out in order to check for infections. Blood tests are also advised to inspect any defects in organs like the stomach, liver or brain.

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4. Abdominal or Pelvic Ultrasounds

In such a test, sound waves are used to see how the internal organs look from the inside. If your child is afflicted with problems related to the abdomen, digestive tract or the appendix, the ultrasound will be able to detect it.

Treatment

Anxious parents are generally keen to know how to stop vomiting in children since vomiting leads to loss of fluids. Your child will become dehydrated due to this and, hence, it is necessary to extend a quick line of treatment. If not, the condition could worsen and hospitalisation may be required.

Here are a few measures to be taken if your child is vomiting:

1. ORS or Oral Rehydration Solution

Severe dehydration can be quickly prevented if he is administered an Oral Rehydration Solution which is commonly known as ORS. This mix of salt, sugar and water is helpful in replacing the fluids lost due to excessive vomiting. It has to be given at regular intervals of time until the child feels better.

2. Anti-Nausea Medicines

It is necessary to calm your child’s stomach and reduce the vomiting sensation. The medicines for nausea do exactly the same jobs and are helpful in managing any vomiting bouts your child has.

3. Antibiotics

Doctors will certainly prescribe a dose of antibiotics so that your child will be able to ward off flu or bacterial attacks. However, you will have to ensure that your child completes the entire course suggested by the doctor. Not doing so may not give the expected results.

4. Intravenous Fluids

This step may be needed if the child refuses to take fluids orally. The necessary fluids the body needs will then be administered intravenously to ensure dehydration does not occur.

Tips to Help the Child Cope-up With Vomiting

Many parents may be confused about the steps to be taken and wonder what to do when their child vomits. The following tips will prove to be useful allies to win against vomiting:

1. Focus on Your Child’s Diet

An important and essential feature of your child’s diet during this period should be large amounts of fluids. ORS or Oral Rehydration Solutions should be regularly taken. Water and diluted fruit juices are other options to rehydrate the body. Avoid carbonated beverages and fruit juices like apple, pear or cherry juices, since they have a high sugar content. Fruits, vegetables yoghurt, rice and potatoes should be included in your child’s diet. Fatty and oily foods that are difficult to digest should be avoided completely. If your baby is breastfeeding, do not stop feeding him until your doctors tell you to. Breast milk is easy to digest for infants and, hence, ORS is generally not recommended for infants.

2. Give Oral Rehydration Therapy

Although this therapy does not help cure vomiting in itself, it proves to be a powerful tool against dehydration. The ORS mixture is available at the local pharmacies, mostly without a doctor’s prescription. Use a spoon, cup or a feeding bottle to feed your child the ORS if mild dehydration or diarrhoea is seen. Use ORS if your child refuses to eat or take his normal diet. Read the recommended dosage given on the pack and feed your child at regular intervals. Your child can have his regular diet after the ORS solution has been taken properly.

3. Decrease Vomit Triggers

External factors like smoke, heat, strong odours, humidity, stuffy rooms and perfumes can prove to be triggers for vomiting bouts. Avoid them as much as possible. Choose a cold room with ventilation for your child. Installing a humidifier to control the moisture content in the room is a good idea. Sudden movements can act as triggers for vomiting and nausea, so keep your child in bed for as long as possible. Perfumes, deodorants and room fresheners can make your child uncomfortable, so avoid spraying them till your child recovers fully. Food items that emit strong smells should be kept away during this period.

Home Remedies for Vomiting in Children

If your child is plagued by frequent vomiting, try out the below-mentioned home remedies. These simple and easy to use remedies will provide relief the natural way:

1. Salt and Sugar Mix

This age-old remedy is quick to make and can be made from these everyday ingredients. Continuous vomiting can aggravate the stomach lining, lead to severe dehydration and expel essential nutrients from the child’s body. This simple mix can replenish the fluids and rehydrate the body.

2. Papaya

This commonly available fruit is packed with antibacterial compounds which help digestion and reduce acids in the body. Papaya contains all the necessary natural enzymes that facilitate the smooth and quick digestion of food. Papaya is also helpful in removing harmful germs that cause stomach upsets.

3. Onion Juice

Mix one teaspoon of onion juice with a similar quantity of ginger juice and feed it to your child. It is an extremely useful home remedy to stop vomiting and nausea since it contains natural antibiotic properties. If ginger isn’t readily available, take one and a half cup of onion juice and add two spoons of organic honey to it. Feed your child half a teaspoon at a time till the vomiting stops.

4. Cumin

Known as one of the best home remedies for vomiting, cumin seeds enhance the pancreatic enzyme secretion. This settles the stomach and the digestion improves dramatically, while the uneasy feeling is reduced too. Boil a cup of water and add freshly- ground cumin seeds to it. Adding a bit of nutmeg to this mixture can further enhance its effectiveness in curing vomiting in kids. Another mix you could try is that of ½ teaspoon of cumin powder and cardamom along with one teaspoon of honey. Ensure your child consumes this mixture slowly to keep vomiting at bay.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Take one tablespoon of honey and apple cider vinegar and mix both in a glass of water. Give this mixture to your little one at regular time intervals. Vinegar contains antimicrobial properties which are helpful in curing food poisoning. Mix vinegar with water and ask your child to rinse his mouth with it. This will eliminate the acidic smell of vomit and reduce the vomiting sensation that rises due to it. Vinegar is also a great way to detoxify the body.

6. Mint

If you are looking to give quick relief from vomiting and nausea, mint is a wonderful antidote that works wonders. To make this remedy, boil water and add one tablespoon of dried mint leaves (organic). Keep the mint leaves in the water for 10 minutes and then strain it. Give this solution thrice a day to get relief from vomiting. Chewing on fresh mint leaves is also a proven method of reducing the feeling of nausea. A mix of lemon juice, mint juice and honey (one teaspoon each) can be equally effective in vomiting cases.

7. Ginger

In order to stop vomiting in children, ginger is a proven remedy, since it contains natural antiemetic properties. It works effectively to soothe your child’s digestive system and gets rid of the nauseous feeling too. Squeeze one teaspoon of fresh ginger juice in a bowl and add approximately one teaspoon of lemon juice to it. Mix it well and feed it to your child every two hours. It will help him to overcome the vomiting bout and nausea. Kids love fresh ginger tea with honey, so you can try that as well.

8. Rice Water

Rice water is basically the starch from white rice. When gastritis is the reason for a bout of vomiting, rice water can be pretty effective. Make sure you make use of white rice and not brown, since the starch from white rice is easily digestible for young children. To make this, take one cup of white rice and add two cups of water to it and boil it. Strain this mixture and separate the rice water in a cup. Feed this rice water to your ailing child and watch the vomiting reduce and then vanish, gradually.

When Should You Call the Doctor?

It is important to seek medical advice immediately by calling your doctor when you notice the following symptoms in your child:

  • Bile or blood in the vomit
  • Uncontrolled retching and gagging
  • Stomach ache
  • Continuous vomiting
  • Body temperature above 104°C
  • Blood in stool
  • Projectile vomiting
  • Lethargy or slow to respond

Word of Caution

There could be serious consequences if certain precautionary measures are not taken when your child is vomiting:

  • Make sure your child is in a sitting or standing position while vomiting. If he is in a horizontal position it could lead to choking.
  • Tell the child to keep the mouth open and not to control the vomit in any way. If the child tries to stop the vomit, he could choke on his own vomit.
  • Watch for irregular breathing or trouble in breathing especially with infants.
  • Vomiting can lead to dehydration quite rapidly and this can become a critical situation in no time.
  • Be on the lookout for irregular or a fast heartbeat. Any such condition should be immediately addressed at the local medical facility.
  • The child’s stool is a good indicator of his health. Stool mixed with mucus or blood indicates a disorder, especially when accompanied by pain.

Vomiting is generally caused by gastroenteritis and is not known to cause any serious issues to a child’s health. However, on occasions, it is known to be a sign of a serious disorder and needs to be evaluated by a doctor quickly. Parents should remember that the situation can be kept under control if they watch out for trouble signs and address them before it becomes a larger problem.

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