Vomiting is the forceful throwing up of stomach contents. Most kids vomit from time to time, but it usually doesn't last long and often gets better on its own.
Vomiting can be caused by many things, most commonly gastroenteritis (the "stomach flu") which is usually caused by viruses. Other germs, like bacteria and parasites, can also cause gastroenteritis. Besides vomiting, people with gastroenteritis also may have nausea, belly pain, and diarrhoea. Vomiting due to gastroenteritis usually lasts less than 24 hours and other symptoms get better in a few days.
Rarely, vomiting can be a sign of a serious problem, including a blocked intestine, such as pyloric stenosis in infants.
Kids often feel nauseous and have belly pain before throwing up. Babies can also have a fever, a loss of appetite, and diarrhoea.
Frequent vomiting can lead to dehydration (not having enough water in the body). Signs of dehydration include peeing less often, crying with few or no tears, having a dry mouth or cracked lips, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and acting very sleepy or less alert.
Treatment for vomiting depends on the cause. Vomiting from gastroenteritis usually goes away on its own in less than 24 hours.
If your child has vomiting, help prevent dehydration by giving an oral rehydration solution (the recipe in detail is available in the nutrition section). It has the right amounts of water, sugar, and salt to help with dehydration. You can buy it without a prescription at drugstores or supermarkets. Prepare it at home or If you can’t get an oral rehydration solution, talk to your doctor.
If your child has mild dehydration and your doctor says it’s OK to start treatment at home:
- Start with small sips of the oral rehydration solution, about 1 or 2 teaspoons every few minutes.
- Babies can continue to breastfeed or take the formula as long as they are not throwing up repeatedly.
- Don't give babies plain water instead of an oral rehydration solution. It doesn't have the right nutrients for babies with dehydration.
- Older children can have frozen electrolyte popsicles.
- Don’t give medicines for vomiting unless your doctor recommends it.
- When your child stops vomiting, you can offer small amounts of solid foods, such as rice, or mashed potatoes. Fresh curd, fruits, vegetable purees, tender coconut water.
Kids who continue to vomit or have more severe dehydration need treatment in the hospital.
Call the doctor if your child:
- Can’t drink for several hours.
- Has signs of dehydration, such as peeing less often, crying with few or no tears, having a dry mouth or cracked lips, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, acting very sleepy or less alert.
- Has a high fever.
- Is vomiting blood, or has green or brownish vomit.
- Has severe stomach or back pain.
- Has a headache or stiff neck.
- Is vomiting after a head injury.
- Is vomiting for more than 24 hours.