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. Our Board-Certified Pediatricians at Caring Pediatrics can diagnose and treat gastroenteritis, vomiting, and diarrhea.
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.
What Is Oral Rehydration?
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.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
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.
few or no tears when crying
fewer than four wet diapers per day in a baby (more than 4–6 hours without a wet diaper in babies under 6 months of age)
soft spot on an infant's head that looks flatter than usual or somewhat sunken
appears weak or limp
not waking up for feedings
In kids and teens:
no peeing for 6–8 hours
dry mouth (might look "sticky" inside), cracked lips
dry, wrinkled, or doughy skin (especially on the belly and upper arms and legs)
inactivity or decreased alertness
excessive sleepiness or disorientation
deep, rapid breathing
fast or weakened pulse
Also contact your doctor if you notice any of the following, which could be a sign of an illness more severe than gastroenteritis:
if your infant is under 2 months old and vomiting (not just spitting up)
projectile or forceful vomiting in an infant, particularly a baby who's younger than 3 months old
vomiting after your baby has taken an oral electrolyte solution for close to 24 hours
vomiting that starts again as soon as you try to resume your child's normal diet
vomiting that starts after a head injury
vomiting accompanied by fever (100.4°F/38°C rectally in an infant younger than 6 months old or more than 101–102°F/38.3–38.9°C in an older child)
vomiting of bright green or yellow-green fluid, blood, or brownish vomit resembling coffee grounds (which can be a sign of blood mixing with stomach acid)
your child's belly feels hard, bloated, and painful between vomiting episodes
very bad stomach pain
swelling, redness, or pain in a boy's scrotum
pain with peeing, blood in the pee, or back pain
headache or stiff neck
If you’re concerned about your child’s condition, please setup your appointment now to have your child evaluated.