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Your child wakes up in the morning and refuses to touch his breakfast. For a child who is generally happy and fun-loving, he seems fussy and cranky. Then suddenly out of the blue, he throws up all that he has eaten since morning. While vomiting helps in getting rid of undigested food, you should be concerned when 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. Some forms of cancers are responsible for vomiting and therefore the probable cause should be explored quickly.
Video: Vomiting in Kids – Types, Causes and Treatment
Types of Vomiting Your Child Can Experience
Your child can experience the following types of vomiting:
If you are breastfeeding your child, it is common for the baby to throw up tiny amounts of milk immediately after every feed.
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.
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:
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.
Children often feel like vomiting when they are affected by this infection. Bacteria, virus and parasites are primary causes of gastroenteritis in children and lead to diarrhoea.
3. Digestive Problems
If your child has an infected appendix or has 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.
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 will also feel stressed before or during exams, competing in debates/competitions or 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.
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 of Vomiting in Kids
Parents should watch out for the following signs and symptoms in children and vomiting can be treated accordingly. They are:
- Severe headaches
- Increased heartbeat
- Pale skin
- Exhaustion and listlessness
- Low appetite
- Drooling or spitting
- Low-grade fever
- Fussiness and sleepiness
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- 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
- Dry Mouth
- Deep, hurried breathing
- Reduced rate of urination
- Reduction in diapers wet in a day
- Damp hands and feet
Your doctor will carry out a 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 stomach, liver or the brain.
- Abdominal or Pelvic Ultrasounds: In such test, sound waves are used to show 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.
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 hospitalization may be required.
Here are a few measures to be taken if your child is vomiting:
- ORS or Oral Rehydration Solution: Severe dehydration can be quickly prevented if he/she 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 till the child feels better.
- 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 the vomiting bouts your child has.
- 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.
- 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 happen.
Tips to Help Child Cope-up With Vomiting
Most parents are clueless on the steps to be taken and wonder what to do when child vomits. The following tips will prove to be useful allies to win against vomiting:
- 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 are high in 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 it till your doctors tell you to. Breast milk is easy to digest for infants and hence ORS is generally not recommended for infants.
- 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 with 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Papaya: This commonly available fruit is packed with antibacterial compounds which help digestion and reduces 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 works on the nauseous feeling too. Squeeze one teaspoon 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.
- Rice water: This rice water is basically the starch from the white rice. When gastritis is the reason for that 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 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 metamorphoses into a larger problem.
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