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  1. #1
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    Feb 2012
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    Default Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    I'm wondering if my 4 year old son has emetophobia. My husband and I don't know what to do or how to know for sure. Two months ago he started asking me multiple times a day if he was going to v*. He gets very upset and sometimes has panic attacks if he forgets to wash his hands after preschool, if he burps, and if his stomach growls. He won't take medicine and gets very upset while brushing his teeth. He complains that his tummy hurts everyday and it's starting to get worse. He woke up hysterical last night asking me if he had a virus and if he was going to v*. Then I had to pick him up from preschool today because his teacher said he got really upset for no reason and said that his tummy hurt. When we got home and turned on the tv, he was fine.

    We've been to the doctor three times and at first they said to give him miralax because he was constipated and now they are sending us to a GI specialist. I just started giving him meds for acid reflux to see if that's the problem. Maybe the reflux is making him feel sick which is then causing this phobia. It's just so difficult to know with a child because he doesn't understand what's happening and he can't articulate how he feels. Should I ask for him to see a therapist or will that just make it worse? He has had other fears in the past but has gotten over them. This time it seems more severe. I don't know how to deal with his questions in the meantime. Do I ignore him or just calmly tell him that he's not going to v*? I'm so exhausted and sad for him. I just want my little boy to feel better.

    Thanks for listening

  2. #2
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    Jun 2011
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    Thats a tough situation. I would see into sending him to a therapist, just in case....is he being picked on at school? Is there a lot of fighting going on at home thats making him feel uneasy??

    The only reason I ask these questions is because your son sounds just like me when I was little. I went to a therapist in 2nd grade because I was being bullied and had anxiety for those reasons and I used to have to deal with some family issues as well.

    Maybe he had a bad vivid dream about vomiting thats been bothering him? But, it does sound like he may be the beginning stages of emetophobia...I hope you all feel better soon. Meanwhile, the work up on the constpation and acid refulx is a good start. It so hard at that age because kids have a hard time of expressing how they feel.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2012
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    He's not being picked on or dealing with any family issues. I think I kind of know where it might be coming from. He had a bad stomach virus several months ago and we talked to him about germs and washing hands because he was curious. It didn't seem to bother him. Then a few months later he had severe constipation and I had to give him a suppository. That's when all of the trouble began. He was traumatized, and since then, he's been a mess. I keep hoping it's just a phase, but I'm concerned after reading more about this phobia.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2012
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    Wisconsin, USA
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    I don't think sending him to a therapist would be a bad idea. I've had this since I was like 7 or younger and my mom was constantly telling me, "you're FINE. You are not going to v*." So I think seeing a therapist might have helped me. I never saw one, I still have it and my whole family thinks I'm a lunatic. But he is only four... maybe give it a while and if it doesn't go away, take him to see someone.

  5. #5
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    Sep 2004
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    I have had this phobia since I was about your son's age, but my parents only picked up on it when I was 9 or so and I started seeing a therapist then. I don't think it would be a bad idea to have him see a child therapist. The therapist can do some evaluation and see whether he believes a phobia is developing, or if it is a phase. It does sound like emetophobic tendencies, but he is so young that honestly only a therapist could probably tell if his behavior is an indication of emet.

    Good luck!
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  6. #6
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    Jan 2011
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    Hawthorne california
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    I have an eight year old and a five year old and let me tell you they imitate everything they see! It could very well be the beginning of emet, it wouldn't hurt to see a therapist I have taken my girls for the same reason. The best advice my dr gave me was to validate their fear but give them coping skills that we unfortunately didn't have at their age. For example yes sometimes we do get sick but you will feel better soon. Mommy and daddy will be here to help you. And don't over emphasize the washing of hands because you might get sick. Instead try we need to wash our hands so they can be clean. It really has made a difference in my girls. Good luck !
    Last edited by bebzorg; 02-03-2012 at 10:14 PM.

  7. #7
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    Feb 2012
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    This is all very helpful. Thank you. I don't have this phobia myself, so I thought it would be best to hear from people that understand what he may be going through.

  8. #8
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    Dec 2008
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    Aww bless him I think it's so great that you're perceptive enough to research the phobia etc. I do feel a lot of parents would possibly dismiss this sort of thing.

    I do think a therapist would be a good idea. I really feel that the younger this phobia is treated, the better. I bet he'd be really receptive to the right kind of treatment. Don't blame yourself for talking to him about hand hygiene etc. I think that's fine. I think - although I may be wrong - that some people are just of born with the sort of personality that's prone to a bit of anxiety. I think I was already phobic at that age and I had a nice childhood.

    Let us know how he gets on. It's lovely that you're being so supportive to him. It will make all the difference. I really think therapy or maybe even just talking to you about his feelings etc will really help xxx

  9. #9
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    Jan 2011
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    Hawthorne california
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    Oh sorry i assumed... That changes everything , yeah it cant hurt to go to therapy. Does he show any other signs of anxiety or compulsive dissorder?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Chicago IL
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    I was 5 when I came down with emet. And your situation sounds so much like me when I was little. I was obsessed with thinking I would be sick...always afraid. I would cry at school, beg not to go, sometimes I would work myself into hysterics and they would just tell my mom to come and get me.
    My parents too, thought that maybe I had a stomach problem, acid reflux, gas, constipation, ect. They took me doctor to doctor. I would stay awake all night every night in fear that I would be sick. They took me to a GI, and let me tell you, your son most likely has no stomach issue, but just anxiety. The doctors and GI specialists will want to do tests that aren't comfortable. I can honestly tell you that the tests themselves terrified me, and that unless you really think there is a medical problem, to avoid them. Therapy is iffy, because you aren't too sure of the problem yet.
    I hope he grows out of it, a lot of kids do. And if he doesn't I would pursue a therapist a bit later.
    When he comes to you asking if he will be sick, or is scared, explain to him that he will be okay. Never ignore him (not saying that you do) or give the impression that his fear is invalid.
    Good luck and I'm so sorry you're going through this.
    I hope this helped a little.
    It does sound like he has emet to me, only because I was exactly like you are describing.
    But hopefully I'm wrong. Good luck

  11. #11
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    Nov 2010
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    Canada
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    I've had this phobia since I was about 2 or 3. I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance at that age so I was dealing with tummy issues a lot, it was not fun, and I was always fretting the possibility of vomiting. I would be in tears, asking my mom if I would be sick, saying I couldn't be sick that I wanted to go to the hospital (at the little age of 2/3!).

    I really wish that I had received help when I was younger, I really think I would have benefited from it. I don't think it would hurt at all to seek some counseling/therapy for your son. Maybe start off with counseling? Although counselors don't give out medical advice and prescribe medication (which is probably just as well for a 4 year old,) they're very comforting and great for the younger kids. I'm 13 and personally, I prefer my counselor over my therapist/psychiatrist, she's much more comforting for me and I feel so comfortable opening up to her.

    My emetophobia began with a horrible stomach virus, too. I actually wasn't that ill, but my whole family got it after and they were so ill, I was horrified and traumatized by the experience. And that caused it all, so I really would recommend having your son talk to somebody, if not you.

    Best of luck to you guys!! xoxo

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  12. #12
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    May 2011
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    I developed emet around 4 or 5 in relation to being ill and abused because i v on the floor/bed. Let's just say I was not the favorite child, and I was prone to various illnesses (born with asthma) and my parents felt I was an inconvenience all too often. I went to the dr for various tests for my stomach, and they discovered I had the early stages of a peptic ulcer at the age of 6! I tell you this because you are a great parent to care for your son so well, and getting him help now will make a HUGE difference for him.

  13. #13
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    Aug 2010
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    Just wanted today, though it may be tempting I think telling him 'no, you won't be sick' could make things worse.

    Firstly, he may start to believe that you are preventing him from being sick somehow. This feeds the phobia, as whenever you're not there to give reassurance he will panic more.

    Secondly, chances are he will be sick again at some point on his life, and if you've reassured him he won't, he will not trust you in future.

    I would say something along the lines of 'I don't know if you're going to be sick. But if you do, it will make your tummy feel better. And you don't need to be scared because mummy (or whoever is looking after him) will help you'

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    115

    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    I was like that when I was younger. I still am just not vocal about it. What he needs is comfort and love. If I ever threw up my home became a jungle which I think may factor into my Emetophobia. If he ever throws up before reaching the toilet please don't flip out like my dad did and turn the house upside down. It will make him feel worse. Try to clean it up and keep him calm. Assure him that it is okay to throw up and it can happen at any place and anytime.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    Poor baby. Emetophobia is horrible. I would definitely take him to a therapist, purely based on the fact that you do not want him to live with it like many of us do. If he has a way out, therapy could be the way because he is still young and impressionable. Good luck!

  16. #16
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    Jan 2006
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    United States
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    I agree with sooo many posts...I started at 10 years old after being sick. So glad my parents were good about it and took care of me. But the whole thing traumatized me anyway, and like ccaassiiee, I was obsessed with avoiding getting sick, hated school or being away from my mom and home, was always anxious with that "butterflies" feeling, couldn't eat....etc. Definitely talk to him as much as possible, be patient with him, and therapy is never a bad idea if you think it's anxiety.

  17. #17
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    Nov 2010
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    NE England
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    Default Re: Could my 4 year old have emetophobia?

    Hello I've always had stomach problems, and sometimes Emet occurs from that. I developed Emet when I was about nine, and it was purely because I was worried about choking and having to cough up food, and then I started thinking: "What if I had to cough up food whilst v*?" Maybe he's seen someone v* at Pre-School, and got a tiny bit freaked out? He could of thought about it a bit more. My Therapist said I was a thinker. Maybe he just thinks a lot about stuff, and got himself worked up? Good Luck in finding out the problem, if you need any more help, we're all here
    Lacey.

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