Vomiting also refers to the forceful oral expulsion of gastric contents. The contraction of the muscles of the abdomen and diaphragm raises the pressure within the abdomen and forces out the contents of the stomach. Generally, the act of vomiting is preceeded by an unpleasant feeling of nausea with excess watering of the mouth.
Vomiting is a common problem in infancy and early childhood. Indeed, it is actually not a disease, but a common symptom of numerous disease of childhood. The condition results from irritation of the vomiting center in the medulla or of the mucous membrane of the stomach.
Vomiting may be gentle or violent. Gentle vomiting may result from distension due to the colic and pains in the stomach, which cease as soon as the patient vomits. Some times, a tender child may suck too much milk. He then lies whining, is uneasy, and cannot sleep. As soon as he vomits out a little milk, he is well again and falls asleep. Similarly, older children get pain in the stomach after eating or drinking too much, and thereby vomit. Vomiting for long duration, or when it is frequent or is violent, is a serious matter, requiring proper treatment.
There are many and varied causes of vomiting. It is a common manifestation of organic and functional disorders. It may be caused by acute or chronic indigestion, nervous disorders and reflex irritation. Acute systemic infections with fever, especially in young children, are frequently accompanied by vomiting and often by severe diarrhoea. Viral, bacterial and parasitic infections of the intestinal tract may be associated with severe vomiting often with diarrhoea. Severe vomiting may be prominent in viral hepatitis, even before the appearance of jaundice.
Another important cause of vomiting is emotional factors such as fear and sudden fright. Fear can diminish the force of the heart which consequently cannot drive the blood to the surface of the body in a required quantity. The patient turns pale and anxious, and is subject to vomiting and diarrhoea. Sudden fright can lead to disturbance in the nervous system. The child may get spasms and convulsions and he may vomit.
The treatment for vomiting will depend upon the actual cause of the trouble in each individual case. In case of gentle vomiting, if it does not occur of its own, it should be induced by tickling of the throat with a feather dipped in oil.
If the parents cannot ascertain the cause, the child should be kept in bed. He should not be given anything but hot water to drink. Co-operative children can be given warm-water enema to cleanse the bowels. They can be given fresh fruits and liquid diet after the acute symptoms are over. Thereafter, they may be allowed gradually to embark upon a well-balanced diet, according to their age, with emphasis on fresh fruits and lightly-cooked vegetables.
In case of vomiting resulting from emotional disorders, the parents and schools teachers should avoid using harsh words while speaking to the child and they should behave with him in such a manner that he looks upon them as friends. The child should be encouraged and entertained so that he forgets what has happened.
Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of vomiting. The most important of these is the use of time, which is very valuable for stopping bilious vomiting. Half a teaspoon of fresh lime juice should be mixed with equal quantity of honey and licked two or three times daily in treating the condition.
Ginger is extremely useful in the treatment of vomiting resulting from dyspepsia, flatulence, colic spasms and other painful affections of the stomach and the bowels, not accompanied by fever. A quarter teaspoon or 15 drops of fresh ginger juice, mixed with half a teaspoon each of fresh lime and mint juices and a teaspoon of honey, constitutes an effective medicine for treating this condition. It should be taken twice daily.
The juice of red beet (chukandar) is another effective remedy for vomiting due to billiousness. About half a cup of the juice with equal quantity of water may be given twice daily. Adding half a teaspoon of lime juice to this juice will increase its medical value.
The tender coconut water is also an excellent remedy for vomiting. It has a soothing effect on the stomach and the condition caused by irritation of the stomach may be relieved by drinking half a cup of this water twice daily.
Application of ice bag over the stomach and the spine opposite to it is also an effective method in controlling this condition. Wet abdominal pack or heating compress, applied for one hour, is another valuable remedy for persistent vomiting. This is a cold compress covered in such a manner as to bring warmth. The procedure for its application has been outlined in Appendix.