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Parents > First Aid & Safety > Emergencies > Vomiting

Vomiting can be caused by many things. Most of the time, vomiting in children is caused by gastroenteritis, usually due to a virus infecting the gastrointestinal tract. Gastroenteritis, often called the "stomach flu," also can cause nausea and diarrhea.

These infections usually don't last long and are more disruptive than dangerous. However, kids (especially infants) who cannot take in enough fluids and also have diarrhea could become dehydrated.

It's important to stay calm — vomiting is frightening to young children (and parents, too) and exhausting for kids of all ages. Reassuring your child and preventing dehydration are key for a quick recovery.

Over-the-counter medications to treat nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not recommended for infants and children. Doctors might recommend medication for nausea or vomiting in certain situations, but these are available only by prescription.

Oral rehydration is something parents can do at home to help prevent dehydration or treat mild cases. Talk to your doctor, especially if you think your child is dehydrated, as you might be given alternate instructions on how to orally rehydrate your child.

Oral Rehydration Tips

For Infants Younger Than 6 Months

For Infants 6 Months to 1 Year

Oral Rehydration Tips

For Kids 1 Year and Older:

When to Call the Doctor

The greatest risk of vomiting due to gastroenteritis is dehydration. Call your doctor if your child refuses fluids or if the vomiting continues after using the suggested rehydration methods.

Call the doctor for any of these signs of dehydration:

Mild to moderate dehydration:

Severe dehydration:

These symptoms may indicate a condition more serious than gastroenteritis; contact your doctor right away:

Vomiting due to gastroenteritis can spread to others, so your child should stay home from school or childcare until there's been no vomiting for at least 24 hours. And remember that hand washing done often and well is the best way to protect your family against many infections.

Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: May 2011

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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