Symptom Guide: Vomiting
Decipher the possible causes of your baby’s vomiting and know what to do




Eats hungrily but spits up or vomits soon after and cries. Also gags during a feed.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or gastric reflux, is when the oesophageal sphincter – the valve linking the oesophagus and stomach – does not function properly. The valve is supposed to prevent the stomach contents from flowing back up the oesophagus.

Should your baby be spitting up too much and is not gaining weight, consult with your doctor for appropriate medication.

Vomiting, diarrhoea, poor appetite and fever.

Gastroenteritis or stomach flu refers to the inflamed lining of the stomach and intestines. Symptoms might be mild or intense and last a few hours or many days. This is a viral sickness which baby can pick up from ingesting contaminated food and drink or from another infected baby.

Call the doctor right away, especially if your baby vomits for more than two days or has bloody stools.

Vomiting with diarrhoea, stomach ache, rash, breathing problems and in severe cases, anaphylactic shock.

Food allergies occur as a result of eating foods that don’t agree with the body. About 90% of allergies are as a result of eight food groups – eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat, soy, tree nuts, fish.

Call for an ambulance quickly if an allergic reaction occurs.

Vomiting or gagging following a long period of crying.

If your baby is under 5-months-old and cries uncontrollably for more than three consecutive hours, at least three or more days a week for at least three weeks, it could be colic. Often colic starts when a baby is two or three weeks old. The cause of colic may be related to a sensitive digestive system. The crying could be due to the stress of being premature or having a difficult birth.

Consult with your doctor to confirm a colic diagnosis.

Vomiting or diarrhoea, fever stiff neck, sensitivity to light, irritability, lethargy, not eating, cold hands and feet, skin rash, bulging soft spot on head, respiratory problems or seizures.

Meningitis is caused by bacteria or a virus. It refers to the inflamed membrane lining, or meninges, of the brain and spinal cord. In young babies, meningitis can cause retardation, deafness and death if not treated early. In older children viral meningitis is mild and clears within ten days. Bacterial meningitis, however, can be more serious.

Seek medical attention early.

“Projectile” vomiting, constantly hungry, dehydrated, weight loss, belching, stomach contractions, swollen belly, bowel movements fewer and looser than usual.

Forceful vomiting, or pyloric stenosis, occurs when the pylorus muscle in the lower stomach blocks the flow of food to the small intestine. As a result your baby throws up forcefully.

Call the doctor immediately if your baby can’t keep her food down. The disorder has to be corrected by surgery.

Vomiting or diarrhoea after swallowing medications, chemicals, or plants. Distressed breathing, severe throat pain, burns on the lips or mouth, convulsions, unconsciousness and extreme sleepiness.

Most poisonings are reported in children under 6 years of age and most take place at home. Don’t make your child vomit as this might cause more harm to her.

If your child has swallowed something poisonous make sure the offensive substance is taken away from her and call an ambulance. Keep a sample or the container in which the substance was stored to help the doctors identify it.

Vomiting, lethargy, pale skin, respiratory problems, fever and diarrhoea. Seems unresponsive and won’t make eye contact.

Blood infection, or bacterial sepsis, is the result of bacteria in the bloodstream that infects the kidneys, lungs or bones. Children between 2 and 36 months must receive the Hib vaccine and the pneumoccocal vaccine to prevent this. Bloodstream infections can also arise from cuts, boils or any other wounds. Sepsis may be indicated by fever, pain and redness of the wound.

Urgent medical attention should be sought.

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