Kids and throwing up: Should you worry?

Throwing up is no fun, for kids and parents alike. It can also be alarming. A CHOC Children’s pediatrician explains what causes children to vomit and when to be concerned enough to call the doctor.

The most common cause of throwing up is a stomach virus, otherwise known as the stomach flu or acute gastroenteritis, according to Dr. Reshmi Basu. It is often accompanied by diarrhea. Vomiting could also be caused by reflux in babies, a toddler’s aversion to certain smells or foods, motion sickness, food allergies, food poisoning, urinary tract infection, appendicitis or other less common conditions.

“It’s also really common for a child to cough so hard that they throw up,” Dr. Basu says. “This can be scary, but should go away once the underlying cause of the cough is resolved.”

Treatment for vomiting varies depending on the cause. In some cases, anti-nausea medication may be prescribed to give your child some relief. A stomach virus should clear up on its own after a few days. When vomiting is caused by reflux, food allergies or motion sickness, the underlying issue can be treated.

A child who vomits one time and has no other symptoms should be fine, Dr. Basu says. They may just have an upset stomach or strong gag reflex.

When to Call the Doctor

Call the doctor if your child:

· Is throwing up for more than two days but has no other symptoms

· Has severe abdominal pain with vomiting

· Has severe headaches with vomiting

· Has a high-grade fever with vomiting

· Has unexplained weight loss with vomiting, or

· Has any signs of dehydration (see below)

“Also, if your child or teen is throwing up periodically over a prolonged period of time, without any obvious reason, I would want to investigate that,” Dr. Basu says.

Watch Out for Dehydration

Kids who have thrown up multiple times are at risk for dehydration, and that risk goes up the younger they are or if they also have diarrhea. Signs of dehydration include extreme fatigue, tired-looking sunken eyes, going several hours without urinating, dark urine, dry lips, dry mouth, dizziness, and, in babies, crying without tears or a sunken soft spot. Your child should see a doctor immediately if they have any of these symptoms.

To prevent dehydration, encourage your child to drink lots of fluids. Pedialyte is best, but if they refuse that then offer what they will take such as water or diluted juice, although it is better to avoid milk. Your child’s stomach may only be able to handle small amounts at first. Dr. Basu recommends starting with 1 tablespoon of fluid; wait 10 minutes, then try 2 tablespoons, and gradually increase as tolerated.

Your child should see a doctor if they cannot tolerate any liquids.

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33 thoughts on “Kids and throwing up: Should you worry?”

  1. What could be going going on with my 5yr old, he’s thrown up randomly in the mornings 3-4 times in the last 3 months. No symptoms of anything.

    1. Hi Salina, the same thing has been happening with my 5 yr old. 4 times in 2 months. Only difference is it wakes her from her sleep around midnight. Have you come to any conclusions yet? If so could you please share? Drs don’t seem very worried but I am. TIA

      1. My 4 year old is doing the same thing… drs don’t seem very worried either. It is very worrisome and making me so stressed.

      2. My 10 year old does this every couple months if she eats something too heavy at dinner, usually 6 hours before. We believe it to be reflux related.

    2. We’ve been having a similar issue with our 6 yr old. Throws up at random in the morning sometimes. 2-3 times in the morning, no other symptoms, then is fine. We’ve seen 3 different pediatricians about it over the past 2 years and none seem to be worried. One said to cut out dairy, which does seem like it is happening a lot less now. But it still happens sometimes. Wish we knew what was causing it. 🙁

  2. My 3-year-old has been doing this too. After throwing up in the morning (1 to 6 times per month) he’s usually fine and acts as if nothing happened at all. I’ve started tracking his food to see if there’s some pattern to his episodes. Have either of you found any answers yet?

  3. My 4 year old has been admitted after nearly dehydrating throwing up every 20 minutes starting two days ago. They tried giving a drip in the hospital however her veins were to sunken so have started with oral hydration and went ok she slept and now this morning after more than 24 hours of starting with the vomiting has now started to throw up again after having had meds . Can this still be a stomach bug/24 hour bug? what could be another cause of throwing up more than 24 hours after it first started?

  4. My two year old started by having diarrhea and now she vomits each time after taking liquids. What is wrong with her?

  5. Hi,
    My son is 5years old .he is been sick since 2 night. Only night time around 12 he is vomiting.1st night i thought it must be over eating.but 2nd night he vomited again. But that day he ate normal. Nothing was over. But all day he was ok no fever no any other symptom. Really worried and confused what happened to him? He never had this condition before. Should i take him to doctor and not to send him school?

  6. I made fresh cut French fries tonight and in hurrying around to tend to both a hungry toddler and a crying 5 month old, I accidentally gave the toddler some fries that were still greasy, so far it’s been about once an hour or so she is throwing up, what kind of advice does anyone have . I myself had a very upset stomach from some extra greasy fries a few weeks ago but am not sure how to take care of a toddler??

  7. My 2 year old son throws up only at night. the only other symptoms is a slight cough he do take a breath treatment every night before bed but he is fine doing the day running around acting as a normal 2 year old

      1. Young children do not recover from stomach illnesses as quickly as an adult. A child may have had bad food or vomited for other reasons but it damaged the stomach lining. Returning to greasy, spicy and non bland foods may bother their stomach. My son had this issue frequently at 2. The vomiting would usually reoccur at night or early morning. For this, keep your kids on a very bland diet (rice, tea, apple sauce, etc) for several days longer than you would for an adult and slowly introduce normal diet. But of course only do this if doctors say your child is fine since persistent vomiting is not something to ignore. Another reason for random vomiting can be anxiety for example anticipation of school, being away from home, etc. This may go away as the child better handles their emotions.

  8. Our daughter has been throwing up for a week now throughout the day and will be fine 30 min after like nothing happy. But what more worries me is all our kids are getting this weird symptoms and the doctors aren’t doing much as they should be . IN MY OPINION. I done feel like they are having enough time and consideration when we goto the hospital. Which I as understand. So what are us parents supposed to do to prevent this from happening again?

  9. My daughter has acid reflux and she throws up sometimes at night if she starts to cry really hard when she doesn’t want to go to bed is this normal ? Also she is 16 months old and she waking up in the middle of the night again crying what could be causing this ?

  10. My son is 19m. He has thrown up three times tonight. The throw up consists mostly of bits and piece of cashew nuts. He has had cashew nuts many times in the past without issue. He is not displaying any other symptoms. No fever or diarrhea. We will be talking to his pediatrician in the morning.

  11. My daughter now 17 has been throwing up once a month, around the same day, between 12 and 2 am since she was around 5 yrs old. No one and I mean not one dr we have seen and we have seen more than 2 hand fulls have ever given us a reason as to why. Can someone please please give me any insight as to what could be going on.

  12. Hi
    My son 5 year is vomitting just one mouth ful at a time ,but every one minute just after the intake of food. In spite of Consulting many of the doctors ,gone vein.
    Do any one have any clue about this symptom? Past one week he is struggling becoz of this. He is underweight , no tireness and hyper active

  13. My daughter is 7 years old . She has been throwing up at night for long time ! I would say maybe once every month or so ! But she has been doing that since she was like 4 years old ! Some of these times after she ate like 5 hours and went to bed and after like half to an hour , she gets up and vomit !!! Any way this thing always driving me crazy and I wanna know WHY? I asked her pediatrician not one but 3 different pediatrician ,and each one has different opinion. We went to pediatric Neurologist and she freaked us out . She said she might have epilepsy while she is sleeping and that can cause vomiting ! She ordered EEG for 4 hours and she wanted her to sleep during that 4 hours to check the brain activity during her sleepiness! Any way we did that and the result was no epilepsy ! But her EEG has some abnormal spike on her left temporal side and the doctor said this is not big deal ! Maybe her brain is growing like that ! But she might get seizures in the future because of this abnormal spike in her brain .. !!!! As a parent honestly I am confused !! I don’t know ! Doctors sometimes they over react and ask for more things to do and then they find out new things that you would never thought about it, but they didn’t find answers to my question and they make me more worried about my daughter because of this stupid abnormal spike in her brain activity which they couldn’t give me answer why my daughter has that ? So frustrated !

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