Vomiting is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Pediatric Consult.

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  • Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of gastric contents through the mouth.
    • A prominent feature of many disorders of infancy and childhood
    • Often the only presenting symptom
  • Regurgitation is defined as small, effortless mouthfuls of food or stomach contents.
  • Retching is contraction of the abdominal musculature against a closed glottis, restricting expulsion of stomach contents (also referred to as “dry heaves”).


Vomiting may be indicative of a number of different physiologic pathways, including as:

  • A defense mechanism to expel ingested toxins
  • An abnormality of, or damage to, the postrema area of the brain (a.k.a. the chemoreceptor trigger zone or vomiting center), which is located at the base of the 4th ventricle
  • A result of intestinal obstruction leading to bowel dilation
  • A reaction to chronic gastrointestinal mucosal disease
  • A result of a generalized metabolic disease
  • A sequela of increased intracranial pressure

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