Causes of vomiting in children. When they are cause for concern

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A common symptom in children, vomiting is often caused by gastrointestinal upset or motion sickness. Because they can also be attributed to emergencies such as appendicitis or meningitis, children’s vomiting should not be neglected.

A mechanical reflex gesture through which the gastric contents are spontaneously eliminated, vomiting is often encountered in children of all ages. In infants, they can be accompanied by cramps and must be differentiated from regurgitation, which occurs in the first months of life, due to the insufficient development of the esophageal sphincter (the valve that connects the esophagus to the stomach).

It is important to note the context in which the vomiting occurs (after a meal, while traveling by car, etc.) and if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, fever or flu-like conditions.

What would be the possible causes

  • Gastroenteritis is an infectious disease caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites. In addition to vomiting, gastroenteritis can cause diarrhea, cramps, fever, headache, apathy.
  • Motion sickness it occurs because of the confusion transmitted to the brain by the balance organ of the inner ear. The motion sickness child should be advised to look out the window instead of focusing on objects such as the telephone.
  • Food allergy such as those with milk or gluten and intoxication produced by a pathogen such as E.coli, Listeria and Salmonella can be manifested by vomiting.
  • Appendicitis crisis. When the vomiting is accompanied by fever, severe abdominal pain on the right side, heavy walking and nausea, it may be a crisis of appendicitis. In this case, urgent presentation to the doctor is indicated.
  • Meningitis. Whether caused by viruses or bacteria, meningitis can manifest itself through vomiting, along with other symptoms (fever, confusion, stiff neck, severe headaches). Meningitis is an emergency, therefore it is necessary to see a doctor.
  • The blows to the head they can cause vomiting, disorientation, fever, hematomas, pain. The child should be seen by a doctor, because head trauma can cause brain damage.
  • The stress attributed to some changes in the child’s life (moving to another house, starting school) can be so intense for the child that it generates vomiting.
  • Other causes of vomiting in children are: urinary infections, sinusitis, otitis, nasopharyngitis, intestinal occlusion, gastritis, indigestion, overeating, cough.

Tips for parents

It is important to calm the child. An episode of vomiting undigested food without other symptoms is generally not a cause for concern. Help the child to keep his head bent forward, so as not to swallow his vomit. The child should not be put to bed during episodes of vomiting. Do not force him to eat or drink immediately after vomiting. Do not give him anti-vomiting or anti-nausea medication without the doctor’s advice.

When accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting can cause dehydration. To prevent it, it is advisable to give the child water, which he must drink in small sips. Signs of dehydration are dry mouth, reduced tears and dark urine. A solution is the rehydration salts available at the pharmacy.

Go to the doctor with your child if his condition does not improve, if he has cramps, is breathing hard, if the vomit is red or looks like coffee grounds.

Read also: What can hide children’s fatigue


Breastfed infants who have vomiting caused by gastroenteritis should continue to receive breast milk, in smaller amounts at first.