Vomiting in children, when is it a warning sign?

04 Jul, 2022

Some children suffer from chronic vomiting, an acute emesis or emptying of gastric contents, which becomes a serious condition when cyclical, particularly when accompanied by swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) and slow growth. Many of these conditions are often misdiagnosed as gastroesophageal reflux – the backwash of stomach acids into the esophagus, which is not always the case.

Physiological refluxes are extremely common during the first few months of the child's life but gradually improve by the sixth month of age as they start eating solid foods. However, the occurrence or prolongation of such reflux after this age may indicate other underlying health conditions, many of which are misdiagnosed and are treated as esophageal reflux. Misdiagnosis include eosinophilic esophagitis- a condition more common in children suffering from several allergies, Helicobacter pylori infection, and cases where children swallow an object such as a battery, which can lead to severe complications.

In rare cases, chronic vomiting can indicate congenital anomalies such as esophageal or intestinal stricture (narrowing), which may appear at a later age when the child starts eating solid foods. These cases need an accurate medical evaluation performed by a pediatric gastroenterologist with the help of an imaging test of the gastrointestinal tract or a gastroscopy if necessary.

At Dallah Hospital, we provide all diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopes for children to diagnose various digestive diseases and conditions accurately. We also perform therapeutic endoscopies to narrow the esophagus or duodenum (the shortest part of the small intestine).

Noticeably, the use of reflux medications to treat chronic vomiting can be temporarily convenient. However, suppose your child does not respond to prescribed medication and/or their level of health declines when off medication. In that case, it is advised to consult your doctor, who will run necessary tests and accurately diagnose the condition.

Dallah Hospital operates six facilities within Saudi Arabia, including the leading Dallah Hospital Al Nakheel and Dallah Namar in Riyadh. Our hospitals provide medical and therapeutic services across various specializations and disciplines, including cardiology, orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, otolaryngology, dentistry, physiotherapy, and surgical endoscopy.