Nausea can have a number of causes. While the majority of them are mild, some can be indications of a more serious condition. When your child develops occasional nausea after eating, it may be a sign of indigestion or an upset stomach, which don’t usually require a visit to an after hours clinic. If the complaint persists, however, it might warrant a trip to pediatric urgent care to put your mind at rest. Here are five of the possible reasons your child has nausea after eating:
Reason #1: Allergies
Children who are allergic to certain food ingredients may experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea after eating anything containing the allergens. They may also get other allergic reactions, such as hives or rashes. You may not realize your child is allergic to an ingredient until he either eats or drinks a sizeable quantity, or the reaction repeats itself enough times to trigger an alert.
The best way to determine whether an allergy exists is to record any incidences of nausea after the first one, then make a note of everything your child has eaten. This will enable you to compare notes if the nausea keeps happening, and possibly identify any common components. It’s also very useful to be able to pass this information on to your pediatrician, in the event that nausea after eating becomes an ongoing problem.
Reason #2: Indigestion
This happens when the digestion process of the food is hindered in some way, either because of an obstruction in the stomach or because the child has overloaded his tummy. Overloading occurs when children eat too fast, swallow without chewing adequately or consumer too much rich or heavy food. The stomach basically rebels against the load, resulting in nausea after eating.
Indigestion in adults can also be caused by acid reflux or GERD, stomach cancer or gallstones, but these conditions are less likely to occur in children. If your child experiences indigestion regularly, however, your pediatrician will run tests to exclude any of these conditions.
Reason #3: Gastroenteritis
Viral gastroenteritis is commonly picked up through eating contaminated foods. If you’ve eaten a holiday meal outside of your home environment and your child develops nausea after eating combined with vomiting and watery diarrhea, he may have contracted a virus. Additional signs of gastro virus include fever, dehydration and abdominal cramps.
Most cases of gastro resolve without treatment, but the symptoms can cause complications particularly in very young children. If your child shows any of these signs it’s best to get pediatric urgent care at your nearest walk in clinic, rather than waiting to see your family doctor or pediatrician after the holiday.
Reason #4: Flu
Children sometimes develop nausea and vomiting as a symptom of flu. If the nausea is combined with a fever, bodily aches and pains, headache, sore throat and general tiredness, your child might have contracted one of the strains of flu that do the rounds every winter.
Your best option for protecting him against this is to get a flu shot as early in the season as you can. If he isn’t vaccinated and shows signs of flu, however, you should get medical treatment urgently to avoid possible secondary infection or other complications.
Reason #5: Food Poisoning
According to research from the CDC, food poisoning is one of the leading reasons for hospital admissions for vomiting and nausea after eating. If your child has eaten food contaminated with toxins or bacteria, you can expect to see fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
It’s often difficult to determine whether the illness is a result of viral gastroenteritis or food poisoning, but if the symptoms are severe you should get medical treatment urgently to avoid dehydration and its potential complications.
Be particularly vigilant if your child has eaten mushrooms or seafood, or shows signs of difficulty breathing, an elevated heart rate or altered consciousness.
Anytime a child experiences prolonged nausea after eating, or nausea accompanied by symptoms such as violent retching, spiked fever or blood in the stool, it’s vital to get medical attention without delay.