Vomiting occurs when the contents of the stomach are rapidly or forcefully regurgitated or emptied through the mouth. This takes place through a sudden contraction of the stomach muscles.
For infants, regurgitation during and between meals is normal, but if your child is regurgitating several times a day, he may not be gaining enough weight. If you suspect that your infant is regurgitating too often or in pain when regurgitating, consult a doctor. The regurgitation can lead to reflux esophagitis, a condition where the stomach acid irritates the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth with the stomach) and requires medical treatment. Another serious cause of vomiting in infants is pyloric stenosis, which leads to forceful, projectile vomiting in infants under 2 months old. This is caused by a blockage or narrowing in the opening between the stomach and the intestines. Without treatment, the blockage can lead to severe dehydration and weight loss. This is a very serious emergency condition. If you suspect that your child has pyloric stenosis, contact your doctor immediately, as treatment usually involves surgery.
Children who suddenly start vomiting usually have gastroenteritis, an infection of the stomach and intestines by a virus or bacteria. Viral infections tend to be milder and may be associated with respiratory symptoms (sore throat, congestion, or earache), but bacterial infections are usually more severe and can result in diarrhea that contains blood. (Diarrhea that occurs during or after traveling to a foreign country is often caused by bacteria.) Besides diarrhea, children with gastroenteritis may also have a fever. Most cases of gastroenteritis do not require any specific treatment and the child will get better after a few days.
Other causes of vomiting include:
Call 911 or the doctor immediately if your child:
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