Is Sickness In Children Always A Stomach Bug?

Most parents panic when their child throws up, instantly thinking the virus will spread like wildfire throughout the house and everyone will be hauled up on the sofa with a bucket nearby within hours. However, not all bouts of sickness are related to stomach bugs.


When your little one goes to school or nursery, it is usual for them to come back with a virus every so often. However, you can’t blame every vomiting episode on gastroenteritis, which typically has symptoms of diarrhoea, a high temperature, and nausea as well.


Some sickness episodes might instead be caused by:


Food poisoning

If your child has eaten something that is out of date, was left out for too long, or not stored or cooked properly, they could become very poorly with food poisoning. You can typically determine whether it is this because anyone else who ate the same thing is likely to come down with it too.


Food poisoning tends to occur just a few hours after eating, and symptoms will also include sweating, fatigue, thirst, muscle aches, headaches, and eye swelling, as well as gastric upset. You might also see bloody stools, and go into shock.



Parents do not often know their kids have allergies until they present with symptoms, which could include vomiting. For instance, they might be allergic to eggs, milk, nuts, fish, soy and peanuts, and their body’s instinct might be to throw up these foods that it cannot tolerate.


If your child regularly vomits, it is worth making a food diary to see whether there is a pattern in what they have eaten before vomiting.



Many children struggle with knowing when to stop eating, particularly if they are indulging in treats that are high in sugar or fat. A litre of banana milk, countless slushies or big packets of sweets, for example, are all things that could lead to vomiting, as the stomach wants to purge these things when eaten in large quantities.


So, if your little one has been sick straight after a party, you might want to ask how much, and what type of, food they ate there.


Travel sickness

A lot of children experience travel sickness, so it is best to be prepared if you are going on a plane, long car journey, or on a bus or train ride. Bring plastic bags to throw up in, mints to take the taste away, ORS hydration tablets to prevent them becoming dehydrated, and travel sickness bands to ease their nausea beforehand. Spare tissues, wipes and clothes are a good idea too.



Some children throw up when they have other infections or illnesses, so if your little one looks unwell or has a temperature, it is sensible to take them to the doctors to be checked over.


They might be suffering from a urinary tract infection, ear infection, meningitis or septicemia, so these need to be ruled out immediately.