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Emergency Room – Vomiting and Belly Pain in Children

March 14, 2021


"It can sometimes be difficult to identify the cause of vomiting in belly pain in your child. Many different illnesses start with abdominal pain and vomiting for the first 12 to 24 hours. Sometimes, additional symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, or a rash can help figure out the cause. A few of the more common causes of vomiting and belly pain in children include the following: gasteroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, is caused by a number of contagious viruses and even some bacteria. Gastroenteritis is often described as a sudden onset of vomiting, fever and generalized pains across the abdomen. Often diarrhea can present immediately or even have a delayed onset. Although it's called the stomach flu, it's not actually caused by the influenza virus. Food poisoning is a type of gastroenteritis and it typically includes vomiting and diarrhea, which resolves in about 24 hours. Vomiting can also be a response to coughing, especially if your child is coughing up phlegm or has a coughing spell and initiates the gag reflex. The medical term for vomiting is emesis. And the medical term for cough is tussis. You will hear your doctor use the term post tussive emesis if your child is found to have vomited after coughing. It's not uncommon to witness post-tussive vomiting and conditions such as pertussis, croup, or pneumonia while your child is having a coughing fit. Urinary infections often cause fever that can last for several days, with occasional vomiting. Urinary tract infections are accompanied by urine that smells foul and burning pain with urination. Severe bladder infections can also cause back pain and fever, especially if they involve other portions of the urinary system, such as the kidneys. Bladder and kidney infections can be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor will order a urine culture to help determine which antibiotic is most appropriate for the urinary tract infection. A urine culture is a test in which the bacteria in your urine is grown in a lab so that different antibiotics can be tested against that bacteria. If the bacteria causing the infection is resistant to the prescription written in the ER, hospital staff or your primary care team will call to change that antibiotic. Intestinal obstruction is an uncommon cause of childhood vomiting, but is very serious. Be on the lookout for sudden, onset of agonizing abdominal pain, pale or sweaty skin, lack of bowel movements, forceful vomiting and green colored vomit. If you experience any of these, call your primary pediatrician or go directly to the ER."

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