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Vomiting Doesn’t Always Indicate a Stomach Virus

Vomiting Doesn’t Always Indicate a Stomach Virus

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Vomiting Doesn’t Always Indicate a Stomach Virus

If you’ve been a mom for any length of time, you are quite familiar with that sinking feeling in your gut when your child vomits. And then the quiet panic sets in, the panic that says you shouldn’t have thrown away those stale saltines, that you should’ve bought some Gatorade while you had a coupon, that you probably don’t have enough Clorox wipes to survive the ugly stomach bug that is currently tearing through your house.

But before you send out an SOS for sick supplies, take a minute to evaluate the situation. The good news is that vomiting doesn’t always indicate a stomach virus. So take heart, Mama. When your sweet cherub starts puking, it may not be as bad as you think it’s going to be. Here are a few things to consider before you break out the hazmat suits.


Is it possible that your child ate something that was tainted with bacteria? What was his last meal? Was it something that might have been undercooked? Did it contain mayo? Had it been sitting out for too long? My husband had a nasty episode recently after eating Japanese takeout, and my Google search told me that soups are often a favorite spot for bacteria to multiply. When I factored in the fact that our local Japanese restaurant keeps their broth in a coffee dispenser that could have easily been unplugged by accident, it was a no brainer that we’d not longer be getting takeout from them. So take the time to consider your child’s last meal. If the vomiting begins within a few hours of eating something that could’ve been tainted, it’s quite possible that he has food poisoning instead of a stomach virus.


Have you given your child any medications recently that could cause vomiting? There are some medications that list vomiting as a possible side effect, but you should also take a good look at any liquid medications that you’ve recently given your child. I had an instance when I’d given my son some liquid Mucinex hoping it would ease his congestion enough to help him sleep better. He threw up not long after I gave him the medicine. I was at a loss as to what could be wrong with him, but he was quick to suggest the medicine. I pulled it out of the cabinet, and sure enough, it was well past the expiration date. After a little bit of research I found out that liquid medications in particular can easily breed bacteria and make kids sick. I’d given my child medicine that had expired and was hosting a bacteria field day. Poor kid.


Has your child had a cruddy cough lately? Some young children have particularly sensitive gag reflexes, and if they have an intense coughing fit, it can be enough to make them lose their lunch. This has happened to two of my children. Large amounts of mucus and a sensitive gag reflex just don’t mix. And if your child hasn’t been coughing consider whether she may have experienced something that could have made her gag. Did she smell a particularly offensive odor? Was she gnawing on her fingers to alleviate teething pain? If you know your child gags easily, it’s quite possible that her vomiting was simply brought on by a strong gag.

And then there’s the power of suggestion. The mind is a powerful thing, and if we believe something strongly enough, it can happen. My son, for instance, has this idea in his head that being sick equals vomiting. Even if his illness has no effect on his stomach, he is convinced that he might throw up if he’s sick. He believes this so strongly that there was an instance when he worried about it to the point where he actually vomited. So take that into consideration. Was your child already worried about throwing up? Is your child worried about something else and tends to have a physical reaction to stress? It’s possible that stress or anxiety could have caused that vomiting episode.


So the next time your child vomits, handle it carefully in case you are dealing with a stomach virus, but don’t freak out right away. Give it some time and consideration. Hopefully you’ll be lucky enough to find that your child was dealing with one of these other issues and not an actual stomach bug!





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