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Posted by Dr. Monica Wonnacott | January 21, 2016

Up Vomiting All Night

“My child has been up all night vomiting. What should I give her? Is there any medicine to make her stop?” 

We’ve all been there

At some point, everyone has experienced what I call the “vomit bug.” We can all empathize with how awful it feels to throw up. The good news is that most causes of vomiting are short-lived, benign viruses that simply need to run their course.

How it starts

The vomit bug often starts as vomiting and then progress to diarrhea. The medical term for this is “gastroenteritis.” Sometimes we call this a GI bug.

So what can you do?

Generally speaking, no medication is recommended to “make it stop.” As a matter of fact, anti-diarrheal medications can make a problem even worse by slowing down the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which essentially keeps the bug in your child’s system and prolongs the course. If your child is experiencing extreme vomiting and dehydration to such a degree that he or she requires a visit to the emergency room, then IV medications might be used to help decrease the nausea and stop the vomiting (not to treat the virus).

Give it time and keep your child well hydrated. Depending on how much and how frequently your child is vomiting, you may have to change his or her diet and the fluids he or she is receiving. A small infant or child should be given a balanced electrolyte solution (e.g., Pedialyte). Try to avoid juices; the increased sugar can make diarrhea worse. As a general rule, don’t worry too much if your child doesn’t have a hearty appetite, just be sure your child is getting enough fluid to stay hydrated.

Signs of dehydration

  • Decreased urine output (a child should urinate at least every 6 hours)
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of tears when crying.

When to seek medical care

  • Vomiting is uncontrolled or lasts a prolonged period of time
  • Your child is showing signs of dehydration
  • Your child is very young
  • The vomit has blood in it