by Prof. Dr. Christopher Boey Chiong Meng
When your child vomits, his stomach contents are forced up his oesophagus and out of his mouth. Vomiting is not a disease, but a symptom. It may be a sign of an underlying disorder or disease.
You can expect your child to vomit several times during his early years because vomiting is a symptom of common childhood illnesses such as gastroenteritis (due to virus, bacteria or parasite infection in the gastrointestinal tract) and food poisoning. A child with a viral upper respiratory infection will also have a tendency to vomit. In such cases, the vomiting usually improves with time.
In some cases, vomiting can be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as blockage of the digestive tract, urinary tract infections, disruption of the balancing mechanism in the ear, hepatitis, and pancreatitis. Thus, causes of vomiting are not necessarily limited to the gastrointestinal tract. Increased pressure in the brain, which can be caused by head injury, bleeding in the brain, brain tumour, and infections of the brain like meningitis, can also result in vomiting. Persistent vomiting in a child must be taken seriously.
When to See The Doctor
If in doubt, consult a doctor early. It is crucial for you to be aware of the 'trouble' signs. Bring your child to the doctor right away if your child :
* Has vomited repeatedly.
* Throws up green-yellowish liquid (bile). This could indicate an underlying obstruction of the intestines and must be investigated immediately.
* Has vomited blood (bright red or brown in colour). This could indicate inflammation or bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
* Has persistent fever or headache.
* Is irritable. An irritable child may complain of neck stiffness and his eyes may be sensitive to light.
* Is drowsy.
* Refuses to eat and is unable to keep liquids down.
* Shows signs of dehydration.
* Has severe abdominal pain.
* Starts vomiting again once he resumes his normal diet.
What To Do
You may feel helpless each time your child suffers from a bout of vomiting. Here are some measures that you can take to help ease your child's distress :
* Do not give your child anti-vomiting medication on your own without medical advice
* Turn your child's head to the side or face down over a basin/towel to prevent him from inhaling his vomit.
* After your child has vomited, help him rinse his mouth with water because vomiting may leave a sour taste.
* Vomiting may be frightening and exhausting for your young child. Offer plenty of assurance to your child and comfort him.
* Encourage your child to drink fluids in order to avoid dehydration. Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) is effective in replacing body fluids quickly. You can find ORS in most clinics and pharmacies
* If your child is able to tolerate food, give your child smaller and more frequent meals, such as four to five smaller meals rather than two to three large meals a day. You can feed him food that is usually well-tolerated such as broth, mild soups and mashed potatoes. Avoid feeding your child fatty or spicy foods.
* Remember not to force your child to eat or drink if he is really unable to do so or if he is drowsy. Get him assessed by a doctor early.
* Make sure your child gets enough rest.
Watch Out For Dehydration
If your child is younger than one year old and is vomiting, he may need special attention. One of the reasons is that the younger the child is, the more he is at risk of losing a substantial amount of fluids, especially if he has been vomiting repeatedly and if his vomiting is accompanied by diarrhoea. This continued loss of body fluids can lead to dehydration.
If left untreated, dehydration can be life-threatening, especially in young children. As such, it is important to look out for symptoms of dehydration : dry mouth, cracked lips, little or no tears when crying, sunken fontanelles in a baby, lack of urine for six hours or more, irritability, sunken eyes, dry wrinkled skin, lethargy or inactivity, and weakness or dizziness.
It is important not to allow your child to reach a stage where he develops signs of dehydration. If your child displays any signs of dehydration, get your child assessed by a doctor immediately.
More info on VOMIT here.
4:06 PM Baby and Children