Adventures in Vomiting
Your child’s upset stomach may be caused by many things. Here’s how to help ease nausea and vomiting.
Throwing up: It seems to be one of those unwavering rites of childhood,
right alongside skinning your knees, and asking “Are we there yet?”
But vomiting, nausea, and stomach upsets aren’t just reserved for kids.
Adults deal with these issues too, though the causes may sometimes be
different. So what makes kids and adults throw up? Can you prevent vomiting?
And, how should you care for someone after they’ve been sick?
Vomiting: A Few Common Causes
There are dozens of conditions that can lead to vomiting or nausea, but
there are a few more common causes.
Gastroenteritis: This is what most of us call the stomach flu (though
it’s not related to influenza). Gastroenteritis can be caused by bacteria,
viruses, and parasites – and often leads to diarrhea and vomiting in adults and
Food allergies and irritations: Although any food can provoke a
reaction, several in particular tend to cause most food allergies, including
eggs, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, wheat, and fish. Nausea,
vomiting, and abdominal pain can occur within minutes or hours after ingesting
the offending food.
Anxiety and stress: Worries about the new school year, tension about
the big game, pressures at work -- all kinds of emotional upsets can lead to
nausea and vomiting, though this tends to happen more often with adults or
The flu and other illness: A few other common reasons kids or adults
might have nausea or vomiting include ear infections, seasonal flu, swine flu,
acid reflux, and reactions to medication.
Eating too much: Many people, especially kids, may eat too much at a
holiday dinner or a fair without realizing it, and then throw up.
Food poisoning: Undercooked meats, dairy products, or foods that have
been out too long can lead to food poisoning, usually caused by bacteria.
Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramps are other common symptoms of
That’s a lot of reasons to throw up. But “across the board the most common
cause for vomiting is probably infection -- gastroenteritis,” says Tanya
Altmann MD, a California pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya
Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers.
And you can come across those contagious gastroenteritis germs just about
anywhere, from school to daycare, restaurants to movie theaters. Get
gastroenteritis, and you can expect to be sick for about a week. But why
exactly do we throw up when we don’t feel well?