My tummy hurts, your 4-year-old complains. Next thing you know,
he slaps a hand over his mouth and throws up all over the couch.
Vomiting can be a traumatic experience for the child and parent
alike. He's upset and scared, and you have no idea whether this is
just a minor stomach bug or something that warrants a call to the
As unpleasant as it is, vomiting does serve a purpose. In some
cases, throwing up will make your child feel better instantly. In
others, vomiting is just one symptom among several that provide
valuable clues to the nature of your child's illness. Does he have
a fever? Diarrhea? Is he dehydrated?
"It's probably going to be something benign," says Dr. Ruben
Rucoba, a pediatrician at Wheaton Pediatrics. "Signs that it might
be much more than that would be vomiting with severe abdominal
pain. Not just a little crampy-my-belly-hurts but when they have
This symptom guide to common and not-so-common stomach illnesses
will help you distinguish a short-lived tummy virus from something
Elizabeth Espindola contributed to this story.
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