Vomiting and Nausea in Children: Cure it the Natural Way!

Vomiting, or throwing up, is the forceful discharge of stomach contents through the mouth and is very common in children. The muscles in the abdomen contract and exert what seems like all of your life force to eject the contents of your stomach. No wonder then that even a short vomiting spell takes a heavy toll on your body. More so in the case of children.[1]

Vomiting episodes are common among children and sometimes even prove beneficial in ridding their bodies off of unwanted substances and pathogens that they may have unknowingly ingested.

Once it has run its course, the vomiting ceases on its own without the need for any medical intervention. It is, nevertheless, important to remain cautious of signs of dehydration in children, and proactively try to settle their stomach and replenish the loss of fluid and energy before the condition escalates to a life-threatening level.

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nausea and vomiting in children

Causes of Nausea and Vomiting in Children

However discomforting the experience, vomiting generally doesn’t set alarm bells ringing since it’s not an ailment in itself. Instead, it is symptomatic of some underlying ailment, such as-[1]

  • Gastroenteritis or stomach flu
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Food poisoning
  • Motion sickness
  • Stomach bug
  • Food allergy
  • Mental stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Indigestion
  • Empty stomach
  • Respiratory infections
  • Some serious health issues and infections, such as- meningitis, urinary tract infection, middle-ear infections, appendicitis
  • An injury like a blow to the head, in which case vomiting may be indicative of stress or trauma.[2]
  • Overeating, rushed eating or eating foods loaded with fat, sugar and fiber which can overburden the still nascent digestive system in kids and trigger a vomiting spell.
  • Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome- Sometimes, frequent vomiting may not be related to any of the above-mentioned causes, instead, it may be a symptom of cyclic vomiting syndrome, which is characterized by vomiting for up to 10 days and mainly occurs during childhood. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), cyclic vomiting syndrome usually affects children around age 5.[3] A 2012 study published in Neurogastroenterology and Motility reports that cyclic vomiting syndrome occurs in approximately three out of every 100,000 children.[4] Cyclic vomiting syndrome can lead to serious complications in children, including dehydration, tooth decay, esophagitis, and a tear in the esophagus.
  • Projectile vomiting in infants soon after feeding can also be indicative of Pyloric stenosis, a condition which afflicts the baby’s gastrointestinal tract blocking food from entering into the small intestine. This condition requires immediate medical attention.
  • Accidentally swallowing some toxic or poisonous substance can also cause your child to vomit.

Symptoms of Nausea and Vomiting in Children

In general, vomiting is often accompanied by other symptoms related to the specific illness or a result of general weakness. Some of the symptoms that may accompany vomiting are-[5]

  • Lethargy
  • Irritability or listlessness
  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Low-grade fever
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea

Prevention

To reduce the chances of vomiting in children-

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When to See a Doctor

Sometimes, a visit to the doctor is a must, especially when there is prolonged vomiting, the child is dehydrated, the child is not able to keep fluids down for a span of 12 hours, and when the following symptoms are present- blurred vision, stiff neck, coughing, high fever, and migraine.

Vomiting and the associated symptoms are often “cured” once the cause of the problem subsides. In most cases, vomiting in children tends to stop without specific medical treatment. However, you can try some home remedies to stop the vomiting and make your child feel better.

home remedies for vomiting in children

Here are some home remedies to help ease nausea and vomiting in children.

1. Increase Water Intake

Vomiting can lead to loss of water in the body and ultimately dehydration, which can be harmful for your child. Hence, the first step to treat vomiting in children and stop dehydration is increasing water intake. A liquid diet is not only easy on the stomach, but it also goes a long way in restoring the body’s strength.

Water is usually enough to rehydrate your child’s body. It is essential that you give your child sufficient water to drink from time to time even if he/she does not feel particularly thirsty.[6]

Moreover, a study suggests that parents should feel free to give young children with minimal dehydration apple juice or their favorite beverage instead of an electrolyte solution when they’re recovering from vomiting.

  • Children who are being breastfed should continue to receive breast milk, but make sure to feed more often than usual.
  • Make your child sip small amounts of water and clear fluids throughout the day.
  • You can also offer carbohydrate- or electrolyte-containing drinks.
  • Making them suck on popsicles made from juices. Sports drinks can also help a lot.
  • Even giving ice chips to suck at frequent intervals is beneficial.
Note: For the first 24 hours or so of any illness that causes vomiting, keep your child off solid foods, and encourage him/her to have more fluids. Babies should NOT receive water unless instructed by your doctor.

2. Homemade ORS

Homemade Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the first line treatment for dehydration. It is a quick fix solution to replenish the lost nutrients and fluids and can be easily prepared at home. Packs of ORS are readily available in the market as well.

A 2009 study published in the American Family Physician reports that oral rehydration therapy is the preferred treatment of mild to moderate dehydration caused by diarrhea in children.[7]

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  1. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and 6 teaspoons of sugar (or brown sugar) to 4 cups of drinking water.
  2. Stir thoroughly until the salt and sugar dissolve completely.
  3. Give the child this solution several times a day until he/she recovers completely.

3. Rice Water

ORS can be supplemented with rice water for effective rehydration therapy.[8] In fact, rice water is particularly effective when the vomiting is resultant of gastritis. It not only prevents dehydration but also provides nutrients to the body, which aid in quicker recovery. Made from rice starch, it usually has a calming effect on an upset tummy.

White rice is a better option as compared to brown rice for making rice water, as it is easily digestible. It also helps that the ingredients required to rustle up this remedy are easily available in most homes.

Many of the infants and children who are at increased risk of gastroenteritis and susceptible to complications of dehydration live in underdeveloped or developing countries. Rice water works well as a rehydration fluid since it offers the dual advantage of low osmolality and the certified efficacy of reduction of stool output.[9]

  1. Wash 1 cup of rice properly and then put it in a pan.
  2. Add 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil.
  3. Once the rice is done, strain the excess water or starch.
  4. Add a little salt and let your kid drink this water to stop the vomiting.

4. Fennel

Another good anecdotal remedy that has been proven by the research as well about its efficacy in stopping vomiting in children is fennel.[10]

Fennel seeds soothe the digestive tract and ease nausea and vomiting. They also have antimicrobial properties that help prevent and treat stomach flu that could be causing the vomiting. Plus, its aromatic flavor helps calm the stomach.

  • Add 1 tablespoon of crushed fennel seeds to 1 cup of boiling water and allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Strain this mixture and let your child drink this tea 1–2 times a day.
  • You can also let your child chew a teaspoon of fennel seeds to help combat the problem.

5. Lemon

Lemon can also help deal with chronic vomiting.[11] Its zesty smell has an energizing effect on the body that can reduce nausea and prevent vomiting. Enriched with vitamins and minerals, lemon can help make up for those lost due to vomiting.

The high vitamin C content of lemons is another reason to include it in your treatment as it helps boost the body’s immunity. Even the acid in lemons helps kill bacteria that cause food poisoning and lead to vomiting.

  • Squeeze a fresh lemon into 1 glass of water and add a little honey. Give it to your child to drink a few times a day.
  • You can even let your child simply smell fresh lemon peels to ease nausea and vomiting.
  • Sucking on hard candies, such as lemon drops, can help eliminate the unpleasant taste in the mouth after vomiting.

6. Acupressure

acupressure to relive nausea and vomiting in children

Since vomiting and the accompanying nausea and uneasiness often render the child unable to even drink, let alone eat, acupressure serves as an effective non-drug treatment to check the persistent loss of fluid and minerals and prevent dehydration.

Traditional Chinese medicine prescribes different acupressure points on the body which are to be pressed for near instantaneous relief to the child in a painless manner. Applying pressure on these acupoints tends to release muscle tension and spur blood circulation that can help stop vomiting and nausea. So it uses pressure to stimulate certain points in the body to relieve symptoms.[12]

For instance, pressure point Neiguan (P6), located on the palm side of the forearm near your wrist, is pressed to help relieve nausea and vomiting.

To massage the P6 pressure point:

  1. Place three fingers across the wrist of your child.
  2. Put your thumb under your child’s index finger.
  3. Rub this point in a firm, circular motion for 2–3 minutes. Don’t press too hard, though.
  4. Repeat on the other wrist.

If your child is old enough, he/she can do it on his/her own.

Additional Tips

  • Do not give over-the-counter medicines unless they’ve been specifically prescribed by your child’s pediatrician.
  • When your child is vomiting while lying down, try to keep him/her lying on the stomach or on the left side as much as possible.
  • After vomiting, do not give anything to eat for at least an hour.
  • Steer clear of solid foods until clear liquids are tolerated, as solid foods can irritate a sensitive stomach.
  • Your child may need prescribed antiemetic drugs for frequent vomiting. These medications help to reduce the frequency of vomiting episodes.
  • Let your child have enough rest and sleep. A well-rested child tends to recover faster since it gives the body time to heal after the strain it goes through during a vomit attack.
  • Deep breathing helps keep the biological response that causes motion sickness in check.
  • Avoid feeding large meals to your child. Instead, opt for several small meals throughout the day.
  • Keep your child away from fried and fatty foods, which can be difficult to digest and cause vomiting.
  • Keep a note of nausea triggers and try to avoid them.
  • If your child can chew cloves, you may give a few cloves for chewing.
  • Charcoal tablets are also useful in curbing for vomiting. If charcoal tablets are not available, munching on a piece of burnt toast can also help. Only use charcoal under the direction of your doctor.

Resources:

  1. Vomiting in children and babies. NHS inform – Scottish health information you can trust. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/vomiting-in-children-and-babies. Published 2018.
  2. Brown, Brown J, Beattie. Why do children vomit after minor head injury? Emergency Medicine Journal. https://emj.bmj.com/content/17/4/268. Published July 1, 2000.
  3. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/cyclic-vomiting-syndrome/Pages/facts.aspx.
  4. Drumm BR, Bourke B, Drummond J, et al. Cyclical vomiting syndrome in children: a prospective study. Neurogastroenterology and Motility. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22762244. Published October 2012.
  5. Vomiting. Is There Really Any Benefit to Multivitamins? https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/pediatrics/vomiting_22,Vomiting.
  6. Drinks to Prevent Dehydration in a Vomiting Child. HealthyChildren.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Drinks-to-Prevent-Dehydration-in-a-Vomiting-Child.aspx. Published 2015.
  7. Canavan A, Arant BS. Diagnosis and Management of Dehydration in Children. AAFP Home. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/1001/p692.html. Published October 1, 2009.
  8. Islam A, Molla AM, Ahmed MA, et al. Is rice based oral rehydration therapy effective in young infants? Archives of Disease in Childhood. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1029905/. Published July 1994.
  9. Ho TF, Yip WCL. Oral rehydration solution Rice water is cheap and effective. The BMJ. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1121559/. Published November 3, 2001.
  10. Anheyer D, Frawley J, Koch AK, et al. Herbal Medicines for Gastrointestinal Disorders in Children. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/139/6/e20170062. Published June 2017.
  11. Apolito PM, Sulzer-Azaroff B. www.jstor.org. JSTOR. https://www.jstor.org/stable/42900359.
  12. Jindal V, Ge A, Mansky PJ. Safety and Efficacy of Acupuncture in Children A Review of the Evidence. Journal of Pediatric Hemotology Oncology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518962/. Published June 2008.
Vomiting and Nausea in Children: Cure it the Natural Way! was last modified: October 15th, 2018 by Top10HomeRemedies
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