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Health Information For Parents
Many different things can make kids throw up, including illnesses, motion sickness, stress, and other problems. In most cases, though, vomiting in children is caused by gastroenteritis, an infection of the digestive tract.
Gastroenteritis, often called the “stomach flu,” usually is caused by common viruses that we come into contact with every day. Besides causing vomiting, it also can cause nausea, belly pain, and diarrhea.
Gastroenteritis infections usually don’t last long and are more disruptive than dangerous. But kids (especially infants) who cannot take in enough fluids and also have diarrhea could become dehydrated. This means that their bodies lose nutrients and water, leading to further illness.
It’s important to stay calm — vomiting is frightening to young children (and parents) and exhausting for kids of all ages. Reassuring your child and preventing dehydration are key for a quick recovery.
Giving kids the right fluids at the right time (called “oral rehydration”) is the best way to help prevent dehydration or treat mild fluid loss.
When fluids are lost through vomiting or diarrhea, it’s important to replace them as soon as possible. The key is drinking small amounts of liquid often to replace water and nutrients that have been lost.
The best liquids for this are oral rehydration solutions — often called oral electrolyte solutions or oral electrolyte maintenance solutions. They have the right balance of fluids and minerals to replace those lost to vomiting and help kids stay hydrated.
Most electrolyte solutions are available at supermarkets or drugstores. If you think your child is at risk for dehydration, call your doctor. He or she might have specific oral rehydration instructions and can advise you on which solution is best for your child.
Note: Over-the-counter medicines to treat nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not recommended for babies and children. In some situations, doctors might recommend medicines for nausea or vomiting, but these are available only by prescription.
If your baby is still vomiting on this schedule, call your doctor. After about 8 hours without vomiting, you can go back to your normal breastfeeding schedule.
There are many good choices for clear liquids, including:
ice chips or sips of water
flavored oral electrolyte solutions, or add ½ teaspoon (about 3 milliliters) of fruit juice (like orange, apple, pear, or grape juice) to unflavored oral electrolyte solution
frozen oral electrolyte solution popsicles
Vomiting due to gastroenteritis is caused by viruses that can spread to others. So keep your child home from school or childcare until there’s been no vomiting for at least 24 hours. And remember that washing hands well and often is the best way to protect your family against many infections.
If your child refuses fluids or if the vomiting continues after you try the suggested rehydration tips, call your doctor. Also, call for any of the signs of dehydration below.
In kids and teens:
Also contact your doctor if you notice any of the following, which could be a sign of an illness more severe than gastroenteritis:
Dehydration is when the amount of water in the body has dropped too low. Read about what causes dehydration, what it does to your body, and how to prevent it.
Kids can become dehydrated when their bodies lose very large amounts of fluids. It’s important to replenish fluid losses as quickly as possible.
Vomiting can be caused by many things, most commonly gastroenteritis (the “stomach flu”). Here’s what to do when your child throws up.
Undercooked burgers and unwashed produce are among the foods that can harbor E. coli bacteria and lead to infection marked by severe diarrhea. Here’s how to protect your family.
Did you ever toss your cookies? That means throw up, or puke. It’s gross, but just about everyone has done it. Find out more in this article for kids.
Undercooked burgers and unwashed produce are among the foods that can harbor E. coli bacteria and lead to infection and severe diarrhea. Here’s how to protect yourself.
Did you ever eat something that made you feel ooky? It might have been food poisoning.
Sometimes kids lose fluids and salts through fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or sweating. Here are some tips on preventing or treating dehydration.
Nearly everybody gets diarrhea every once in a while, and it’s usually caused by gastrointestinal infections. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Read this article to learn more.
Flu symptoms tend to come on quickly and are worse than the sneezing and stuffiness of a cold. The flu is very contagious. Find out what to do in this article for parents.
What are fevers? Why do kids get them? Get the facts on temperatures and fevers in this article for kids.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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