What to do when a child is vomiting non-stop

By Mieke Vlok
17 August 2015

“Keep the patient on their side so they don’t swallow vomit and watch for danger signs such as drowsiness and a spotty rash on the skin.”

Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea can be due to something innocent like a meal that didn't sit well with your child’s metabolism, but sometimes it can point to something much more serious.

Our expert weighs in on when to be worried.

  • Because the causes of serious nausea and diarrhea are so different it’s wise to go to hospital if symptoms persist, says Dr Timothy Hardcastle, head of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s trauma training centre.
  • He says bowel movements and vomiting that aren’t isolated incidents and continue for hours are cause for concern.
  • “In kids especially it can point to illnesses such as pneumonia and meningitis.”
  • He recommends keeping the patient hydrated. Electrolyte supplements available from supermarkets are valuable in countering dehydration, he says.
  • “Keep the patient on their side so they don’t swallow vomit and watch for danger signs such as drowsiness and a spotty rash on the skin.”

Emergency numbers:

  • Countrywide poison information centre: 0861-555-777
  • Netcare 911’s emergency line: 082-911
  • State ambulances: 10177
  • ER24’s emergency line: 084-124

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