Five-year-old on third day of vomiting and belly pain -- stomach virus?
February 22, 2012 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Five-year-old on his third day of vomiting with stomach flu?

Our five-year-old vomited once on Monday afternoon, then complained of abdominal pain overnight. Continued eating and drinking, though.

Yesterday morning (Tuesday), he had a lot of abdominal pain and an acute phase of vomiting -- 5 times in 3 hours or so -- and then fell asleep and seemed to be feeling better when he woke up. He had something to eat and drink, which he held down, and he was peeing.

Nothing overnight last night, and then this morning (Wednesday) he really seemed fine -- he ate breakfast, he went outside to play, he had a mid-morning snack. Then at noon he suddenly started with the belly pain and vomiting again -- again, multiple bouts in a short period of time -- maybe 4 times in an hour.

He's been a little fevered, but not very high, while he's in the midst of the pain and vomiting -- maybe 101.

Has anyone experienced this with a child? His other stomach viruses have progressed so normally -- in fact, he's usually the mildest case in the house, vomiting maybe once or twice and then fine in 12 hours.

I've been on the phone with his pediatrician, and as of now, we're hoping he'll pee within the next couple of hours, or we'll have to take him to Children's. The pediatrician also said that if he has another recurrence (where he seems to improve and then starts up again), we should bring him in. I know YANM[child's]D, but I was hoping someone might have a similar experience to share and advise us. This seems so bizarre and alarming to me.
posted by palliser to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can he keep liquids down? Pedialyte and the popsicles made from same? Or even Gatorade?

There's a lot of norovirus going around in my region (greater Boston area) and it's affecting younger children disproportionately. My elder goddaughter lived on Pedialyte popsicles and apple juice for a couple of days with hers.

Sorry your son is having this ick, whatever it is.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:27 PM on February 22, 2012

The main concern is dehydration, so as long as he can keep liquids down (Pedialyte is a good one) and he's peeing clear-ish, I don't think you have an emergency.

How has he been mood-wise? Other than the vomiting, does he seem sick (lethargic, cranky, etc.)? My daughter's pediatrician always said to keep an eye on those kinds of things as an indicator of serious illness rather than her temperature.

As for feeling good, then getting sick again, when you start him back on solids, try the BRAT diet, rather than a regular meal. Chicken broth, noodle and veg-free is good, too.
posted by looli at 1:34 PM on February 22, 2012

Response by poster: He's unable to hold liquids right now, and he was unable to during, say, a 5-hour window yesterday, but other than that, he's been drinking and even eating a little bit. But no, when he's acutely ill (right now he's sleeping, but as of when he fell asleep) he's not holding anything -- even ice chips come back up. His grandmother is buying him popsicles right now, so maybe he can manage one of those when he wakes up. (Pedialyte has been a nonstarter with him, historically.)
posted by palliser at 1:35 PM on February 22, 2012

I don't have an exactly similar experience but I've been reading about stomach viruses today because my son woke us up to clean up messes from both ends SORRY throughout the night, and I was surprised to read it but several sources said symptoms can persist for 3-7 days.

I also wanted to mention that the stomach bug (we thought we'd avoided) has flown through our homeschool community here in Philly, and anecdotally we've heard that it's been happening all over the US for the last few weeks.
posted by sudama at 1:35 PM on February 22, 2012

In my son's case it was food allergies (egg in his case).

If his vomiting correlated with eating, this may be the culprit.

Not a Dr, listen to yours, etc
posted by forforf at 1:36 PM on February 22, 2012

My daughter used to get strange throwing up (with no fever) illnesses. This happened from 3-5, and it was due to an allergy.

Flat coke seemed to be the best thing for her. At least it makes throwing up less painful.
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:36 PM on February 22, 2012

Seconding the possibility of norovirus. It's going around in West Virginia and Virginia as well, and it includes abdominal pain as well as the regular stomach flu/food poisoning vomiting and diarrhea. As far as I understand it, you can only treat the symptoms if it is norovirus, which may include hospitalization/extra doctor visit if severe dehydration occurs.

Good luck you and your son. Stomach bugs are the worst.
posted by shortyJBot at 1:37 PM on February 22, 2012

Keep him hydrated, above all else. If he can't hold down liquids, get him to the ER or hospital so that they can administer fluids.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:48 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he can't keep down liquids he needs to go to the ER.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:08 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I share your anxiety, though. In December our youngest had a fever for four nights and lost 200 grams of bodyweight.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:21 PM on February 22, 2012

Do you know for a fact that it's the flu - is anyone else in the house sick? I don't want to be an Internet scaremeister...but I rallied between bouts of intense abdominal pain over the course of a few days, with a low fever, and it turned out to be worthy of a trip to the ER.
posted by gnomeloaf at 2:27 PM on February 22, 2012

I agree with the advice above to go to the doctor/ER if he can't hold liquids down. I also want to add to the idea of thinking about allergies if this persists longer that a virus usually does. My oldest nephew started at age 6 to have stomach pain and nausea right after eating, and would have other digestive issues including some random vomiting episodes at night but then feeling better the next morning. They had an appointment set to put a scope in his stomach to see what was going on when the doc decided to test for allergies as well. They found out he was allergic to eggs (any tiny amount would make his stomach hurt; larger quantities led to vomiting) and "intolerant" to soy (those reactions weren't as severe).

Honestly it sounds like the virus that seems to be going around everywhere right now, but you may want to pay strict attention to what you're feeding him as well. If you cut out the eggs and things improve, consider allergy tests. Also, egg tends to hide in different foods (Zaxby's chicken tenders have egg in the batter, Chik-Fil-A does not) so be aware of that as well.

Hope you little one feels better soon!
posted by MultiFaceted at 2:28 PM on February 22, 2012

Best answer: My two older children have had viruses like that. Their experience followed with a kicker a week later, where they were sick again but only for a day.
Keep giving him water and ice, even though it is coming up, some of it may be staying down. A small child can dehydrate pretty quickly so yes, if he isn't peeing, bring him to the hospital.
You can also ask the doctor for suppositories that will stop the vomiting. They tend to knock you out so make sure he drinks plenty of water before falling asleep and put him to bed with a pull-up on.
posted by myselfasme at 3:16 PM on February 22, 2012

First hit for 'stomach flu' on Google (PubMed.) Lots of information there.
posted by klanawa at 3:18 PM on February 22, 2012

Best answer: Just chiming in in agreement to watch his urine output and dont be afraid to take him in to the ER if he still isnt keeping fluids down.

This happened to my daughter, although she was younger (two) at the time. It was actually a week long thing for her - never constant vomiting, she'd eat and we would think we were in the clear for a long enough while and then she would suddenly sometime during the day vomit everything up in one or two GIANT vomits and diarrhea and then go back to malaise and sleeping. Repeat cycle over and over the following days. I brought her into the docs where we saw an on call peds and she didn't seem all that concerned because she said my daughter looked peppy and because the actual number of times she vomited was very low - like, 1-2 times a day, with only one big bought of huge diarrhea daily. I reluctantly left even though I really didn't feel comfortable about it. The next day I thought my kid was feeling better, fed her some toast and ice chips, went halfway through the day when she vomited everything up and I realized she was still in her diaper from the morning and it was almost completely dry. I went back to the peds (my regular one) and went through the whole thing again and insisted on labwork. They ran them at the office while we waited and when the las came back the peds ran into the room and said he had already called the hospital to admit her. We got there and they kept trying to catheterization her to get a urine sample and they couldn't because there was... Nothing. I only say this to say that dehydration can happen fast, and you don't want to have to try to get an IV in a teeny little guy with empty veins when it's truly an emergency. Go with your gut. You know your kid and you know when something's not right, sometimes even when the medical profession doesn't think they look too bad.
posted by takoukla at 3:19 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't want to be an Internet scaremeister...but I rallied between bouts of intense abdominal pain over the course of a few days, with a low fever, and it turned out to be worthy of a trip to the ER.

The doctor seemed to say it was unlikely to be appendicitis (is that what you had?) because he said the vomiting was too primary a symptom (the vomiting was the first symptom, not the abdominal pain). I have been worried about that, though, when the pain has seemed very bad.

Two popsicles have gone down, and he peed a little bit ago, so I think we're okay for now, but if he starts up again, in we go. Thanks, everyone. It's reassuring even to know that other children have experienced multi-day vomiting, seeming better and then getting worse again, when I've only seen the usual progression so far (acute horribleness followed by steady improvement).
posted by palliser at 3:42 PM on February 22, 2012

Response by poster: Popsicles came back up, and he's on his way to Children's with Daddy. Will update.
posted by palliser at 5:06 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ugh... my 7 year old just had his appendix out... and vomiting was the first symptom. The pain and vomiting started at about the same time.

The key symptoms that made us go to the Dr. were that he couldn't keep fluids down and that he was walking hunched over like an old man from the pain.

Fingers crossed that all your son needs is some fluids and rest.
posted by LittleMy at 5:37 PM on February 22, 2012

OP - thank you for the updates! It sounds like you've got a handle on things, but I just want to take this opportunity, in case other parents come across this posting, to really stress takoukla's statement that;

"I only say this to say that dehydration can happen fast, and you don't want to have to try to get an IV in a teeny little guy with empty veins when it's truly an emergency. Go with your gut. You know your kid and you know when something's not right, sometimes even when the medical profession doesn't think they look too bad."

Wishing your son a speedy and uneventful recovery!
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:42 PM on February 22, 2012

Yes, in my case it was appendicitis. (I never vomited, but I definitely came close more than once.) Up until the CT scans came back, everyone I saw had different theories about what it was -- none of which were my appendix. I've heard a fair number of appendicitis-that-didn't-present-conventionally stories since then, too, so I'm sure I've got some serious observation bias. I hope your little one feels better soon!
posted by gnomeloaf at 5:57 PM on February 22, 2012

Clearly I'm late to the game, but I just wanted to say that whether it's vomiting first or not, it can still be appendicitis. Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to diagnose appendicitis by history and exam - that's why surgeons still end up doing a certain percentage of negative appendectomies.

Especially if it's vomiting and abdominal pain without diarrhea, appendicitis is a possibility (although certainly more rare than a regular old stomach bug).

Hope he's doing better now.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:18 PM on February 22, 2012

Hope he's okay!
posted by Sassyfras at 4:43 PM on February 23, 2012

Response by poster: Nothing much has changed, unfortunately -- The ER sent them home on Wednesday night, since he wasn't dehydrated, I guess, but yesterday (Thurs) he was vomiting again, so we took him to the pediatrician. They sent us back to the ER for IV fluids, which he got last night, as well as Zofran. This morning, though, he's still having belly pain and won't drink. He's sleeping right now, but he really hasn't had fluids since the ER last night, where he ate a popsicle. Day 5 today, we'll see how he does.
posted by palliser at 6:48 AM on February 24, 2012

Is he pooping?
posted by Sassyfras at 7:53 AM on February 24, 2012

I was just talking to a friend who, due to some medication, is totally backed up. So much so that she's having bad pain and cannot keep anything down. Something to look in to.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:05 AM on February 24, 2012

Came back to see how things are, hope today is going better.

( prove your point about no surefire diagnostic tools...I had diarrhea!)
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:02 PM on February 24, 2012

Response by poster: Well, we made it to bedtime with no vomiting today. Italian ices, popsicles, Gatorade (a tablespoonful every 15 minutes). The belly pain subsided after this morning. So... cautiously optimistic. Thank you, everyone, for the responses, memails, and concern. Really hugely helpful to us.
posted by palliser at 5:47 PM on February 24, 2012

Response by poster: Damn. Friday night, more vomiting overnight. Saturday and most of the day today (Sunday), nothing -- we thought we were done. Then, the last 2 hours, more vomiting and belly pain.

Pediatrician says it's probably just a very tenacious stomach bug. Getting hard to believe, especially since nobody else in the house has gotten it. We'll take him back in tomorrow (3rd doctor/hospital trip for this).
posted by palliser at 2:25 PM on February 26, 2012

Poor baby and poor all of you - scary when little ones get that sick! I hope tomorrow is better!
posted by leslies at 6:17 PM on February 26, 2012

Response by poster: Just thought I'd update this for any worried parents in the future wondering about a long-lasting stomach thing -- it's been a little over a week now since his last episode. We still don't know what it was; his pediatrician actually revised his diagnosis to constipation, and he did go on Miralax just before it stopped happening, so that's a distinct possibility. A couple of other doctors in the family think it was just a weird stomach bug; one of them works in the local children's hospital, and has had a few patients with 2-week gastro bugs over the last few weeks.

Anyway, tldr: it lasted 8 days, it seems okay now, it may have been constipation or just a bizarrely tenacious stomach bug. Thanks again for all the suggestions and kind concern.
posted by palliser at 6:40 PM on March 6, 2012

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