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Date of last update: 9/9/2017.

Forum Name: Pediatric Topics

Question: Psychogenic Vomiting/symptoms

 dst - Tue Dec 25, 2007 1:39 pm

Hi there,

I am having some trouble finding sources on this subject, as I think the occurance is not common.

My 5 year old niece ( female ) will show psychosomatic symptoms when she hears or observes anyone ill or injured.
A recent example: At the hospital visiting a friend whom had recent triple-A repair, the attending was talking in a consult room about the surgical procedure of the lower aortic repair ( nothing too verbally graphic ). My niece started to get agitated, pale, diaphoretic and she requested we stop talking about the procedure. We exited the room and she no sooner vomited.

She will experience these symptoms anytime someone is sick, or even if we talk about medical things ( to include dental procedures or simple normal conversation as anyone else would have )

The only thing I can figure out as the origin, is that when she was 3-4 years old, she observed a family member vomiting and feeling ill from the flu. My niece watched for a minute, just staring. We tried to get her attention during this, and ended up physically removing her, as if she was mesmorized.

Ever since then, she would react negatively from anyone who is ill. Otherwise, she is a normal acting 5 year old.

All history is clear, no medical or developmental issues, typical household, nurturing family environment. Which, makes this confusing for me.
We plan on discussing this with our pediatrician in the next appointment

Any ideas, links or resources to help us understand this would be wonderful!

Happy Holidays, and be safe out there!
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Fri Dec 28, 2007 11:28 pm

User avatar Hi DsT,

There is not much information available on psychogenic vomiting. Some children simply are very empathetic and can react in the manner you are describing to disturbing information. Your niece may simply find medical information unpleasant and react by getting ill. Many people have basically this same reaction and pass out (for example, at the sight of blood). The reaction is basically identical. Most likely she will get better with this as she gets older. It may be helpful to talk with her pediatrician about this to see if there are any other medical concerns, although it doesn't sound like there are.

Best wishes.

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