Frequently Asked Questions

Vomiting In Children

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What causes vomiting in children?

Some children, including babies, vomit for unknown reasons. The following are the most common causes of vomiting in children:

  • Digestive problems from stomach acid reflux, an infected appendix, or a blockage in the digestive system

  • Infections of the ear, urinary tract, lungs, or spinal cord

  • Nerve and brain conditions , such as trauma, tumors in your child's brain or spinal cord, or pressure from swelling

  • Feeding problems , such as milk allergies, overfeeding, or improper position while feeding

  • Poisonous chemicals or substances swallowed by your child

What signs and symptoms may my vomiting child have?

  • Fever

  • Pain or swelling in his abdomen

  • Diarrhea

  • Dizziness

  • Fast heartbeat or fast breathing

  • Fussiness and sleepiness

  • Pale skin

How is the cause of vomiting in children diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine your child. He will ask when the vomiting started, and what your child ate or drank before it started. Tell him if your child recently hit his head. Your child may also need the following tests to find the cause of his vomiting:

  • Blood tests may show infection or problems with your child's organs.

  • Abdominal x-rays may show if there is a blockage or tear in your child's digestive system.

  • Pelvic or abdominal ultrasounds use sound waves to show pictures on a monitor. An ultrasound may show appendicitis (infected appendix) or problems in your child's digestive system.

  • An abdominal CT is also called an abdominal CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's abdomen. The pictures may show appendicitis or a tumor. Your child may be given dye before the pictures are taken. Tell your child's healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

How is vomiting in children treated?

The main focus of treatment is to make sure your child does not become dehydrated. Your child may be admitted to the hospital for severe dehydration. Ask your child's healthcare provider about these and other treatments:

  • Antinausea medicine calms your child's stomach and controls vomiting.

  • Antibiotics help your child's body fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Make sure your child takes his antibiotics until they are gone, even if he feels better sooner.

  • An oral rehydration solution , or ORS, contains water, salts, and sugar that are needed to replace lost body fluids. Ask what kind of ORS to use, how much to give your child, and where to get it.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your baby has projectile (forceful, shooting) vomiting after a feeding.

  • Your child's fever increases or does not improve.

  • Your child begins to vomit more frequently.

  • Your child cannot keep any fluids down.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child has shortness of breath or is gasping for air.

  • Your child's vomit contains blood or looks like it has coffee grounds in it.

  • You cannot wake your child.

  • Your child is irritable and has a stiff neck and headache.

  • Your child has abdominal pain that does not get better after he vomits.

  • Your child says it hurts or cries when he urinates.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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