Nausea and Vomiting

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Vomiting in infants

It may be hard to decide if an infant is vomiting or spitting up. If the episodes occur shortly after feeding and only a small amount comes up, this may be spitting up.

  • Forceful vomiting: In the first two or three months, if the vomiting is forceful after eating (imagine it flying across the room), this may be a sign of pyloric stenosis, or an abnormal narrowing of the pylorus, the location where the stomach empties into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The vomiting is impressive and is described as projectile. The diagnosis is often made by history and physical examination, confirmed by ultrasound. The treatment is surgery.
  • Vomiting associated with pain: if the infant cries uncontrollably, and if the stool is bloody or red, the diagnosis may be an intussusception (the pushing of one segment of the bowel into an adjacent segment). The stool is classically described as currant jelly, but any blood in the stool is not normal and should always be a cause for concern. It is reasonable to seek medical care for any inconsolable infant.
  • Viral infection: If there is vomiting with associated diarrhea that is not bloody, then a viral infection is a possibility. Alternatively, there may be an issue with intolerance to the type of baby formula. Infants and children are at greater risk of dehydration if the vomiting episodes last for more than 24 hours. If dehydration is suspected, seek medical care. Signs and symptoms of dehydration in an infant include dry mouth, lack of sweat in the armpits and groin, suken eyes, weakness with a poor cry, and decreased muscle tone.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/22/2016
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