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Camping First Aid and Safety

Does the color of vomit mean anything?

Ever wonder why vomit can look like coffee grounds, be yellow, or even clear? What do vomit colors mean? Here’s what you need to know.

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As parents we tend to analyze every single thing about our kids.

So why not their puke?

I mean, honestly, we try to catch their vomit in our hands until they’re old enough to make it to the bathroom. So it’s only logical that we look at the puke and start to pay attention to color. And consistency.

Sounds strange when you actually type that out.

We pay attention to the color and consistency of our children’s vomit. Ugh.


Related: How to Remove Vomit Smell Fast

So. Do vomit colors mean anything?

Yep. Sure does.

The color of vomit can give a clue into what’s going on with your kiddo, and more importantly, it can tell you when your child might need serious help.

Let’s figure out what exactly your kid’s puke might be telling you.

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What CLEAR vomit means

Clear vomit usually only happens after your child has vomited several times and their stomach is totally empty.

It can be caused by food poisoning, a stomach bug, a cyclic vomiting disorder. But, if any of these are the culprit, you’ll notice your child’s vomit change to bile. More on that later.

More seriously, clear vomit can be an indication of a serious brain damage following a head injury.

What WHITE or FOAMY vomit means

White puke can simply be caused from eating a dairy product like milk or ice cream.

But, if the vomit appears foamy, it could be caused by excess gas in the stomach. You should take your child to the doctor if it lasts more than a day or two.

What GREEN or YELLOW vomit means

Green or yellow puke could indicate that your child is throwing up bile- a fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder.

Vomiting bile isn’t always a reason to be concerned. You could see it if your kiddo has a stomach bug and they’re continuing to vomit when their stomach is empty.

Related: How to Remove Vomit Stains

What ORANGE vomit means

Orange vomit is common during the first few hours of illness, and if your child continues to eat when they’re sick. Partially digested foods are orange when they’re in the stomach.

Orange puke is commonly caused by: food poisoning, stomach bug, or migranes.

Less commonly, orange puke results from appendicitis, motion sickness, inner ear infections, or chemo. Though, if any of these are the cause of the puking, it would likely progress to another color.

What PINK or RED vomit means

If your child vomits red or pink, it means there is likely blood in their puke. Fancy word- puking blood is called hematemesis.

Bloody puke can also be a dark brown or black, so keep an eye out.

You should take your child to the doctor if you suspect there is blood in their vomit.

It could mean something like: dietary intolerance to milk, swallowed blood from injury to the mouth, or certain blood clotting disorders.

What BROWN vomit means

In many cases, brown vomit is actually a shade of dark blood.

However, if the puke looks like coffee grounds, you need to take your child to a doctor as soon as possible. It could be the result of peptic ulcers or another serious underlying condition.

Occasionally, vomit smells like fecal matter. Yeah. Poop vomit. Severe constipation can cause vomit to smell like poop. If this happens, your child likely has some additional symptoms like stomach pain or bloating. Take your child to the doctor.

Related: Too Sick For School?

What BLACK vomit means

Black vomit can also be a sign of blood, especially if it resembles dark coffee grounds.

Blood can look black when it’s oxidized by the acids in the stomach. Since the blood is no longer bright red, it means that the bleeding has stopped or is happening in small amounts.

Take your child to the doctor as soon as you can.

What vomit that tastes METALLIC or ACIDIC means

If your child tells you that their mouth tastes like a quarter after they puke, be really concerned. Ammonia- and metallic-tasting breath and vomit are signs of kidney complications. Get help immediately.

Why vomit changes texture

You might notice that the more your child pukes, the more the texture changes. That’s totally normal and often a result of the change in the stomach contents. Commonly you’ll see food remnants, then bile, and stomach acids.

If anything concerns you, definitely check in with your doctor.

When to be concerned about vomiting

Puking is a normal part of illness. Although it’s messy and annoying, it is normal and most of the time, it’s not life threatening. There are times when you should be concerned.

You should take your child to the doctor if:

  • You notice blood in your child’s vomit.
  • Your child starts to vomit bile.
  • The vomiting has lasted 48 hours and doesn’t seem to be improving.
  • Your child can’t keep down fluids.
  • Your child is showing signs of dehydration.
  • Your child has lost weight.
  • Your child has diabetes. Repeated vomiting may impact your blood sugar levels.

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