"My child won't stop vomiting, any food or drink he has, he just vomits it back up!"
Tommy, a four year-old boy, sits quietly in his mother's lap. He had been vomiting 4-5 times each day for the past 2 days. Every time his mother gives him something to drink, he would vomit it back up 20 minutes later. He has not had any food except for one or two crackers. He has also been passing loose watery bowel motions.
He has also had a fever.
What should we do?
1. Lower the fever - unwell kids are generally lethargic and look tired because of a high temperature. They tend to become more energetic when the fever is lowered. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are both good choices, and do not interfere with each other, while working on pain and temperature in different ways. So feel free to use both! An important point is to dilute the flavour of the medicine, as they can be quite sickly sweet, potentially making them vomit again. Do this by adding water to the dose they are on.
2. Small amounts, frequently - when they are feeling nauseated, stretching the stomach with too much fluid can trigger another episode of vomiting! Give a teaspoonful of fluids every 5 minutes if you have to.
3. Keep up the fluids - even if it seems like they vomit a lot, if they drink some fluids, some will still enter the intestines and be absorbed.
4. Rehydration solution recipe - 1 liter of water, half a teaspoon of salt, 6 teaspoons of sugar. Drink up!
5. Vomiting and diarrhoea is the body's way of flushing out the bug that is causing the illness. It is not the frequency that is the problem, it is whether the body has enough fluids to do that. So drink up!
A quick way to assess whether a child is dehydrated - mouth, is it wet or moist? Do they cry tears? If their tongue is moist and they still have tears, they are very likely still very well hydrated.
If in doubt, get checked with a doctor!