Vomiting is a reflex that can be caused by a variety of problems, such as viruses, and often causes the contents of the stomach to come out of the mouth. Everyone at one point in their life has vomited and knows how painful it can be in the abdominal area. Vomiting in children could be a simple gastrointestinal (GI) bug or something more serious that requires urgent care from a gastroenterologist.

Causes

Vomiting in children could be caused by a broad range of problems, and can range in severity from motion sickness to a more serious illness.  Common childhood vomiting causes are:

  • Viral GI tract infection - Rotavirus is a very contagious viral infection that causes diarrhea, but also could make your child have nausea and vomiting. Other viruses include Norwalk virus, which is very easy for children under 4 years old to get in nurseries. This virus is often referred to as the tummy flu and is very contagious in younger children.
  • Bodily infections - Infections in other parts of the body could cause vomiting as one of the signs and symptoms of that infection. Examples include appendicitis, ear infections and pneumonia.
  • Food poisoning -Undercooked poultry and meats can be a very hazardous food for children to eat. Proper food sanitation is important to avoid getting your family sick.  Common food poisons are E. coli and variations of Staphylococcus.
  • Chemical/household poisons - If your child swallows, inhales or plays with a toxic item or chemical, the body could defend itself against the toxin by causing the child throw up.
  • Other GI conditions - Your child might have a GI tract issue such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or a feeding aversion problem that can be addressed by a gastroenterologist.

Treatment

Depending on the severity of the vomiting and the length that the child is vomiting, there are various treatments that can help:

  • Rehydration - Vomiting may cause your child to lose valuable electrolytes and water, which need to be replenished with clear electrolyte drinks.
  • Urgent care - Depending on the incident that caused the vomiting, your child might need to be taken to the Emergency Department or an urgent appointment with one of our physicians. Many services are available to help with your urgent situation, and it is important to recognize the significance of your child's vomiting, as it can be something very dangerous.

Make an Appointment

If you’d like to request an appointment with one of our specialists from the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®). You can also request an appointment online.

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