As a parent, watching your child become ill after a fun activity such as swimming can lead to worry and anxiety. Most of the time, vomiting after swimming resolves within a few hours, although vomiting that persists can lead to complications such as dehydration. Fortunately, most episodes of vomiting after swimming are treatable at home and preventable by changing swimming practices.
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Your toddler might vomit just once after swimming, or the vomiting could occur many times. The illness might last for just an hour or two, or three days or longer, depending on the cause. In addition to vomiting, your toddler might develop additional symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, sweaty skin and fussiness.
The most common cause of vomiting in toddlers is the stomach flu, explains the Ask Dr. Sears website. This infectious illness is easily spread among young children, and might not necessarily have resulted from the visit to the pool. However, if children who have fecal accidents or if fecal matter gets into the water as a result of changing diapers near the pool, toddlers can pick up the stomach flu after swimming in water contaminated in this way. Other possible causes of vomiting after swimming include food poisoning and viral and bacterial infections that affect the intestines.
If your toddler begins having trouble breathing or exhibits of severe dehydration, such as sunken eyes, cold skin, excessive sleepiness, fussiness, dizziness, or confusion, or if the vomit contains blood or looks black and tarry, dial 9-1-1 or another emergency number. If your toddler fell or hit his head while swimming and then vomits, he could have a concussion, which also requires immediate medical evaluation.
Thirty minutes to one hour after your toddler vomits, offer him 5 to 10 cubic centimeters (cc) of an oral rehydration solution every 5 to 10 minutes to treat dehydration caused by vomiting. If your toddler prefers juice, dilute it with the oral hydration solution, suggests the Baby Center website. If your toddler is still breastfeeding, offer the breast at this time. You might also consider making frozen ice pops out of the oral hydration solution, adding a little white grape juice for flavor. Avoid giving your toddler any anti-nausea medications unless recommended by your doctor. Once your child shows signs of hunger, offer him choices of foods as close to his normal diet as possible, to help resume proper nutrition.
Keep your child out of the pool until he is fully recovered, to avoid overexertion, reinfection or spreading of infection to others. Keep a clean swim diaper on your child, and avoid pools lacking sanitary facilities for changing diapers. Avoid swimming in open bodies of water that are contaminated with bacteria that can lead to illness, and make sure any pools your toddler visits are regularly sanitized and inspected by health officials. If the vomiting resulted from poor swimming technique such as swallowing pool water, consider enrolling him in a swimming class for young children.