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Vomit Color Chart: Its interpretations and Indications

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Vomit Color Chart: Its interpretations and Indications

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Vomiting can be a symptom of various conditions, and the different colors suggest various illnesses. Read the article to know more.

Written by

Dr. Osheen Kour

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Arpit Varshney

Published At March 7, 2023
Reviewed AtApril 3, 2024

What Does the Vomit Color Chart Indicate?

The vomit color chart indicates various medical conditions that change the color of vomiting. This change in vomit color is mainly due to the varying ranges and progression in stages of an underlying medical condition causing vomit. Vomiting usually lasts less than two to three days and is not considered serious. It mainly occurs due to irritation in the gut because of some reactions and getting harmful things out of the stomach. Mild vomiting may be due to food poisoning, and regular episodes of vomiting every month may also indicate chronic illness.

What Are the Different Colors of Vomiting, and What Do They Indicate?

Different vomit colors indicate different underlying conditions that may cause vomit. These are as follows:

1. Clear Vomit

Clear vomit occurs when a person has already had vomiting, throwing out everything in the stomach (food content also), making the stomach empty. Clear vomit can occur due to the following conditions:

  • Morning flu.

  • Food poisoning.

  • Morning sickness.

  • migraine.

  • Cyclic vomiting disorder.

Sometimes the body even throws out bile from the stomach in clear vomit, which may appear green or yellow.

Clear vomit occurs due to the following reasons:

  • Head Injury: Clear vomit indicates brain damage in head injury cases. A person experiences frequent and severe clear vomiting during a head injury.

  • Gastric Outlet Obstruction: This condition arises from an obstruction caused by an ulcer or tumor. In this condition, a person cannot eat or during, as nothing gets through their gut, including water and saliva.

2. White or Foamy Vomit

Foamy or white vomit usually appears if a person has consumed milk or ice cream. The vomit appears white or foamy due to acid buildup in the stomach. Therefore, a person should consult the doctor if the condition lasts more than one or two days.

The gas in the stomach is caused due to the following reasons:

  • Gastritis: The inflammation of the stomach’s inner lining is called gastritis. The condition may occur due to excessive alcohol consumption or long-term use of pain relievers. In addition, other symptoms can be nausea, indigestion, and abdominal fullness after eating.

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or Acid Reflux: The condition occurs when the acids from the stomach flow back into the esophagus. It causes symptoms such aschest and throat pain and trouble swallowing.

3. Green or Yellow Vomit

The vomit appears green or yellow due to the fluid called bile that is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Sometimes clear vomit due to an empty stomach may also bring up bile due to morning sickness and stomach flu-like conditions. Therefore, the green or yellow color does not always indicate some serious illness.

The reasons that cause green or yellow vomit include:

  • Food poisoning.

  • Intestinal obstruction.

  • bile reflux.

  • Vomiting on an empty stomach.

4. Orange Vomit

The orange color of vomiting is due to the partially digested food in the stomach. The color appears orange during the initial few hours of the disease. The vomiting usually appears orange if a person continues eating between the episodes. Orange-colored vomit is usually not worrisome if it appears only for a day or two.

Various causes of orange vomit include:

  • Flu or Influenza: It causes symptoms similar to the common cold, such as sore throat and runny nose. The condition further progresses and causes chills, fever, fatigue, and headache.

  • Stomach Flu or Gastroenteritis: The condition occurs due to contact with an infected person. The virus is acquired from contaminated food and water, and the symptoms caused in a person include abdominal pain, muscle aches, and low-grade fever.

  • Morning Sickness (During Pregnancy): The hormone buildup in the body during pregnancy can cause nausea and vomiting. This is usually experienced by almost 70 percent of pregnant women, and vomiting can occur anytime during this period.

  • Migraine: Migraine attacks are severe and may last a few hours to days and make a person feel like vomiting due to persistent pain and episodes of migraine attacks.

  • Food Poisoning (Due to Contaminated Food): It can cause vomiting and other symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

Orange vomit is also caused by some other reasons, such as:

  • Chemotherapy.

  • appendicitis.

  • Certain medications.

  • Inner ear infections.

  • Motion sickness.

5. Red or Pink Vomit

Red or bloody vomiting is also called hematemesis. It usually appears pink to bright red, and in some cases, it may also look dark brown or black. A person should immediately consult a doctor if they experience pink, red, or bloody vomit.

Various causes of bloody vomiting in children include:

  • Blood clotting disorders.

  • Dietary intolerance to milk.

  • Structural birth irregularities.

  • Swallowed blood from injury to the mouth.

Various causes of bloody vomiting in adults include:

  • Liver Failure: It usually occurs in people who already have pre-existing liver disease. The symptoms include white eyes, yellowish skin, pain in the upper right abdomen, swelling of the abdomen, confusion, and feeling sleepy.

  • Peptic Ulcers: It leads to bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and upper intestines.

  • Damage to Mouth, Throat, or Gums From Vomiting or Coughing: Significant amounts of blood is not alarming. However, if such episodes are frequent, a person should consult the doctor immediately as it may be due to some serious underlying medical condition.

  • Amyloidosis: This occurs due to protein build-up in vital organs. A person can experience bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea during this condition.

  • Mallory-Weiss Tear: This is a tear in the esophagus caused by frequent episodes of forceful vomiting.

6. Black Vomit

The vomit can be black, thus indicating blood in the vomit, which resembles dark coffee grounds. The acids in the stomach oxidize the vomit, and it appears black. The iron present in the blood changes from brown to black and no longer appears red, indicating stoppage of bleeding or bleeding in small amounts. Therefore, a person should consult the doctor immediately if they experience these episodes of black vomit.

Various other causes of black vomit include:

  • Fungal infections.

  • Peptic ulcers.

  • Liver failure.

  • Damage or injury to mouth, throat, and gums.

  • Stomach cancer.

  • Severe constipation.

7. Brown Vomit

Brown vomiting is also an indication of bloody vomit and appears like light coffee grounds. It can occur due to various underlying conditions, such as amyloidosis, peptic ulcers, etc. Brown vomiting also occurs due to severe constipation, causing hindrance in digestion. This vomit often smells like fecal matter and causes severe abdominal pain and bloating.

Vomit Color Chart

When Should a Person Consult the Doctor?

  • If a vomit has lasted for more than 48 hours.

  • If symptoms of dehydration, such as headaches and dizziness, are experienced.

  • If a person is unable to take down fluids.

  • In case a person has diabetes, vomiting can fluctuate blood sugar levels.

  • If a person experiences weight loss due to vomiting.

  • Severe chest pain due to vomiting may indicate a heart attack.

Conclusion

The vomit appears not only different in color due to underlying conditions but also in texture, depending on the content in the stomach. The consistency and texture also change with repeated episodes of vomiting, initially throwing out food content followed by clear vomiting containing bile and acids in the stomach. The changes in vomit are usually not a problem, but if anything unusual is experienced, a person should consult the doctor immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Are the Most Concerning Color of Vomit?

Pink or red vomit color often indicates bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Also, the black or brown color of the vomit is a medical emergency as it may occur due to any underlying medical conditions, such as liver failure, fungal infections, severe constipation, peptide ulcers, stomach cancer, or injury or damage to gums, mouth, and throat. Even yellow or green vomit can indicate some alarming health conditions, such as severe bile reflux.

2.

How Does an Abnormal Vomit Appear?

Abnormal vomiting usually looks like coffee grounds due to blood and stomach acids. It indicates stomach or liver cancer, gastrointestinal acid reflux, ulcers, and other abdominal conditions. Abnormal vomiting makes a person feel sick. Unpleasant and shaky. It also indicates internal bleeding and some serious underlying condition that may be present.

3.

What Is the Color of An Acidic Vomit?

Acidic vomit or gastritis vomit appears white or foamy due to acid buildup in the stomach. It usually appears white because of milk or ice cream consumption. The acid build-up can occur due to gastritis, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), or stomach acid reflux. Therefore, a person should consult the healthcare provider if the vomit persists for over two days.

4.

What Is the Color of a Vomit if a Person Has a Liver Disease?

Bloody vomiting occurs if a person has underlying liver disease. The color of vomit usually appears red, bright red, pink, or brown, or it may also appear black in case of liver failure. Therefore, a doctor must be consulted immediately in such cases. Also, if the vomit throws out bile produced by the liver, the vomit appears yellowish or green.

5.

What Is the Color of an Ulcer Vomit?

Ulcer vomit is pink or red due to bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, including the mouth, stomach, esophagus, and upper intestines. Ulcer vomiting mainly occurs due to peptic ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract due to various reasons, such as dietary intolerance, birth defects in the mouth, or injury inside the oral cavity.

6.

Why Does Vomiting Occur?

Vomiting is the body’s response to eliminate harmful substances from the body, or it may also occur due to some reaction or irritation in the gut. The irritation can occur due to bacterial or viral infections; gastroenteritis is the most common type of gut infection. Vomiting is the body’s natural defense to get rid of imbalance or abnormal activity in the stomach.

7.

What Is the Color of Food Poisoning Vomit?

Green or yellow vomit indicates food poisoning. It appears green or yellow when the stomach is empty, and the vomit brings up bile secreted by the liver along with clear vomit. There can be other reasons for green or yellow vomit; therefore, this color vomit doesn't always need to indicate some medically severe illness. These include stomach infections, bile reflux, intestinal obstruction, or vomiting on clear stomachs.

8.

What Color Is Empty Stomach Vomit?

Empty stomach vomit appears clear as the stomach throws out everything inside the stomach. Clear vomit can occur due to various conditions, such as morning sickness, morning flu, migraine, and cyclic vomiting disorders. In addition, it may also occur due to a head injury or gastric outlet obstruction.

9.

Is Brown Vomit Considered Normal or Not?

Vomit appears brown due to coagulated blood clots in the gastrointestinal tract. It looks like light coffee grounds and indicates blood in vomiting. Therefore, brown vomit is not considered normal as it suggests internal bleeding, obstruction in digestion, and severe constipation. It can also be a sign of some serious underlying condition, such as peptic ulcers and amyloidosis.

10.

What Does Bloody Vomiting Look Like?

Bloody vomiting appears dark red, bright red, pink or looks like grounds of coffee. It can be wholly bloody or sometimes mixed with food. Blood in vomiting is also called hematemesis and indicates bleeding along the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the upper intestines.

11.

When Should a Person See a Doctor for Vomiting?

A person should see a doctor if the vomiting lasts for more than one or two days and they are unable to take any fluids due to repeated vomiting episodes. Also, if vomiting causes severe dehydration, rapid heartbeat, no urine, sunken eyes, and unexplained weight loss due to lack of appetite, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
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Dr. Arpit Varshney
Dr. Arpit Varshney

General Medicine

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