Managing Vomiting In Kids

Vomiting is a normal occurrence in children, and it often accompanies mild illnesses that might be related to viruses. While vomiting does pass without any intervention, much like it does in adults, it is important to know when an intervention is required. There are antiemetic and antinausea medication that can be taken to alleviate the symptom, but you should not reach for them with the first episode.

Understanding Vomiting

Vomiting is the body’s natural response to any ingested substance it perceives as toxic. It can also be triggered by motion or nausea.

Vomiting differs from regurgitation. While both are involuntary reflexes, regurgitation or spit up is visibly effortless and mostly inconsequential. Vomiting involves more force, and involves the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. It is very dislikeable, and the amounts produced are more than with regurgitation.

It’s hard to tell between the two in newborns and infants because the presentation is often identical.  A pediatrician is needed when they occur regularly, or if there is some force behind them. In children, the most common cause of vomiting is gastroenteritis, which is of viral origin. Like most viral infections, it is self-limiting and resolves by itself in 48 hours or less. Nausea, diarrhea and fever are usual accompanying symptoms.

In the event that a child has ingested something toxic, do not try to induce vomiting. Instead, contact your doctor immediately.

How to manage vomiting in kids?

When your kid starts vomiting, you should not reach out to a medical professional just yet, until it is established that it won’t resolve. Before then, you should try to limit the spread of any pathogen that might be causing it. This means cleaning the vomit and disinfecting the surface immediately, and routine and proper hand washing for both the affected, and every other member of the household.

Medications, such as antiemetics, can reduce the regularity of the vomiting episodes, but they must first be prescribed by a doctor.

As a guideline, you should see a physician when the vomitus is green, red, or brown, there’s severe abdominal pain, high fever, lethargy, dehydration above moderate, and if the vomiting is forceful and persistent for more than 24 hours. The physician will do a clinical assessment and derive a differential diagnosis.

Is there any risk associated with vomiting?

The biggest risk that vomiting brings is dehydration. Since vomitus is mostly fluid, the body is deprived of life-sustaining water, and it must be replenished. Signs of dehydration include an acute thirst, dry mouth, sunken eyes and reduced urine production. The child should eat a regular diet as well as can be tolerated, and kept on fluids. Artificial drinks or processed foods should be avoided. Cereal with milk is usually good for rehydrating. Where the vomiting is recurrent and if there is diarrhea as well, electrolyte balance should be restored. Oral rehydration Therapy is recommended for this.

Shall I continue breastfeeding my baby?

For infants, breastfeeding should continue. If vomiting occurs immediately after, you can adjust your breastfeeding intervals by increasing their frequency, but reducing the amount of time spent each time. If the vomiting does not improve, contact your doctor.

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