Medical Q&As

Vomiting - what's causing it?

My 3-year-old daughter has been off her food since Saturday. She got sick on Sunday evening and again on Monday morning (not a lot came up as she had not eaten much). Her stools are a very light brown colour and I wonder what that means?

The most likely cause of your daughterís symptoms is acute gastritis, which is a viral infection that affects the stomach. Like all other illnesses gastritis can affect people to varying degrees and it would appear that your daughter is experiencing a mild episode of this illness. I donít think that the colour of her stools is of great significance at this stage and may simply reflect the fact that the child is not eating. Viral gastritis is a self-limiting illness that usually resolves spontaneously in a matter of days. The principal risk with this condition is the risk of dehydration therefore it is essential that you ensure that your daughter drinks plenty of liquid. It is probably not worth the effort to try and encourage her to eat. If she is not eating just make sure to encourage to drink. Children often lose a little bit of weight with an illness like this but the weight is quickly regained once the child resumes normal eating. Children often develop a temperature with gastritis in which case liquid paracetamol can be beneficial in controlling the temperature. Since this is the sixth day of your childís illness I would expect that there should be some easing of symptoms at this stage. However, if the vomiting persists or if you are concerned about the general appearance of your child it would be reasonable to have the child medically assessed before the end of this week.