Vomiting can be caused by many things. Most of the time, vomiting in children is caused by gastroenteritis, usually due to a virus infecting the gastrointestinal tract. Gastroenteritis, often called the "stomach flu," also can cause nausea and diarrhea.
These infections usually don't last long and are more disruptive than dangerous. However, kids (especially infants) who cannot take in enough fluids and also have diarrhea could become dehydrated.
It's important to stay calm — vomiting is frightening to young children (and parents, too) and exhausting for kids of all ages. Reassuring your child and preventing dehydration are key for a quick recovery.
Over-the-counter medications to treat nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not recommended for infants and children. Doctors might recommend medication for nausea or vomiting in certain situations, but these are available only by prescription.
Oral rehydration is something parents can do at home to help prevent dehydration or treat mild cases. Talk to your doctor, especially if you think your child is dehydrated, as you might be given alternate instructions on how to orally rehydrate your child.
The greatest risk of vomiting due to gastroenteritis is dehydration. Call your doctor if your child refuses fluids or if the vomiting continues after using the suggested rehydration methods.
Call the doctor for any of these signs of dehydration:
These symptoms may indicate a condition more serious than gastroenteritis; contact your doctor right away:
Vomiting due to gastroenteritis can spread to others, so your child should stay home from school or childcare until there's been no vomiting for at least 24 hours. And remember that hand washing done often and well is the best way to protect your family against many infections.
Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: May 2011
|National Safety Council The National Safety Council offers information on first aid, CPR, environmental health, and safety.|
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Poison Control Centers Use this toll-free number to reach any of the United States' 65 local poison control centers - (800) 222-1222 - or visit the website to find the poison control center nearest you.|
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|Food Poisoning Did you ever eat something that made you feel ooky? It might have been food poisoning.|
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|U.S. Poison Control Centers If you have a poisoning emergency, here's the number to know: 1-800-222-1222.|
|Dehydration Your body is about two thirds water. When the water level dips below that level, you could be dehydrated. Read about what causes dehydration, what it does to your body, and how to prevent it.|
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|Babysitting: Dealing With Vomiting What should you do if a child you're babysitting starts throwing up? Our tips can help you be prepared.|
|A Kid's Guide to Fever What are fevers? Why do kids get them? Get the facts on temperatures and fevers in this article for kids.|
|Influenza (Flu) Flu symptoms tend to develop quickly and are usually more severe than the typical sneezing and stuffiness of a cold. Yearly vaccination is the best protection against the flu.|
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