When nausea hits a child, it is all too sudden and unexpected. The child goes through the bout of vomiting amidst shock and sometimes, confusion and shame not knowing why it affected him/her at the first place. Besides crying, many young children find it very difficult to identify or express or warn their parents and caretakers about the onset or feelings of nausea, and by that time vomiting happens, it is too sudden and unexpected. Over a period of time, if the child displays tendencies of nausea, there are ways to prevent it to an extent.
Causes of Nausea and Vomiting in Children
- Viral infection/gastroenteritis: Stomach flu is the single most popular reason of nausea and vomiting in young children and teenagers. The other significant symptoms of stomach flu include diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal pain. These symptoms come suddenly and also disappear and resolve within 24 hours. The only way to prevent infection by these highly contagious viruses is through careful hygiene—especially hand-washing and avoiding potentially contaminated objects and surfaces.
- Motion sickness: A lot of children and adults do not feel comfortable when travelling in cars, planes, or boats. Their heart beats faster, they sweat quite profusely and sometimes, their skin becomes cold and they feel rapidly anxious. These are all symptoms of motion sickness.
- Nervousness and other strong emotions: Any major life changes and milestones in life can bring about their own share of feelings, emotions and anxiety like school, moving house and cities, changing jobs, or over-excitement about a vacation or any other fun event which can induce nausea and vomiting.
- Intense or continuous coughing: Sometimes continuous or intense coughing can induce vomiting.
- Overeating: We all know overeating is bad. Do you know that overeating also causes vomiting other than the discomfort of having to move around with a super full tummy beyond one’s control? However, infants throwing up milk or formula after a feeding session does not qualify to be called nausea or vomiting.
Nausea Remedies and Tips for Children
The age of the child determines what nausea medications and remedies are appropriate:
- All stomach remedies are not child-friendly: Some medications used to treat nausea and vomiting like antacids are not kid-friendly. Antacids used to treat heartburn and stomach acid or any medicine specified to treat nausea are not recommended for children under the age of 12.
- Motion sickness: To treat motion sickness there are prescription and non-prescription medications. While some of them can be used for children, there could be side effects like drowsiness. Non-medicinal tips include having the child face the front of the car or the plane or the train (no looking outside the windows while in motion) or, when in a boat, keeping eyes on the horizon. Smelling a lemon also helps .
- Keeping still can help prevent nausea from leading to vomiting.
When to Call the Doctor About Your Child’s Nausea
Mild nausea and vomiting are hardly harmful. However, if one feels the child’s symptoms are unusual or severe, or if there are signs of dehydration, one should contact the child’s doctor immediately.