Nausea and vomiting, although common symptoms, can cause a lot of distress when it is persistent. It is important to find out the cause and treat it accordingly.
Nausea is an unpleasant feeling in the stomach that often precedes vomiting. It may or may not be followed by actual vomiting. Vomiting is the forceful throwing up (expelling out) of contents of the stomach through the mouth.
Both nausea and vomiting are commonly caused by different conditions. Both are not diseases per se but non-specific symptoms of various illnesses or disorders.
Nausea and vomiting can occur separately or together. The various causes of nausea in adults include:
Intense pain due to injury or illness.
The first trimester of pregnancy.
Chemical toxins exposure.
Adults vomit rarely, and the causes include:
Bacterial or viral infections.
Severe headache and migraines.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Consuming a large amount of alcohol.
Eating disorders (bulimia and anorexia nervosa).
The causes of vomiting in children are:
Blocked intestines (in infants).
Usually, nausea and vomiting are not serious and are common symptoms that can be managed in adults. But, consult a doctor if:
There is associated fever or abdominal cramping or pain.
You are unable to retain any food or fluid for more than 24 hours.
It follows a head injury or fall.
If there is a new or recurring episode of a severe headache or a migraine.
If you vomit blood, be it fresh (bright red) or old (brown/dark red).
You are known to have a medical condition involving the heart, kidney or liver.
There is severe fatigue or dehydration.
If your neck is stiff.
If you are exhibiting mental confusion and rapid pulse.
For a child who is below 6 years of age, seek emergency care if he or she has:
Wrinkled skin, reduced consciousness, and a weak pulse, as these are signs of dehydration.
Been vomiting for around 2 to 3 hours.
Not urinated in the last 6 hours.
A fever of above 100°F (38°C).
For a child who is above 6 years of age, seek emergency care if he or she has:
Vomited for more than 12 hours.
Been showing symptoms of dehydration.
Not urinated in the last 6 hours.
A fever of 102°F (39°C) or higher.
The following situations can be potentially life-threatening.
1) If vomiting is because of severe conditions such as head injury, meningitis, brain tumor, and appendicitis, then it should be taken seriously.
2) Dehydration is the most crucial complication of vomiting, especially in kids. It is rare in adults because the symptoms of dehydration in adults, such as increased thirst and dry mouth, make them drink water. But as kids cannot communicate and identify these symptoms, dehydration can become severe and also fatal. So if your kid’s lips are dry or they become irritable or confused, give them oral fluids immediately. For infants, less urination and a sunken fontanelle, which is the soft spot on the baby's head, can be considered signs of dehydration.
3) Some pregnant women can develop a serious condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, where the woman vomits continuously, which can potentially endanger her and her unborn child’s life.
4) In some rare patients, excessive vomiting can lead to Mallory-Weiss tear, which is a tear in the lining of the esophagus. This is a medical emergency.
Once you seek a doctor's advice, they will find the cause based on your associated symptoms and history. In some cases, a few investigations may be necessary to rule out certain disorders:
Upper GI (gastrointestinal) endoscopy.
1) Home Remedies:
Nausea and vomiting can be managed at home with these tips:
Ginger is known to help ease the queasy feeling. So, are citric fruits. Include ginger in lemonade if ginger tea is not agreeable to you.
Have bland foods such as crackers, toast, or wheat rusk on an empty stomach to keep nausea at bay.
Avoid hot, greasy, and spicy foods until you get completely alright.
Keep yourself hydrated with fresh juices, yogurt drinks, or green tea. Sip only a little fluid at a time.
Eat what you feel like whenever you are comfortable. Do not force yourself to eat your regular meal on schedule at this point.
Although the symptoms seem to come from the stomach, nausea and vomiting are controlled by the brain. So, relax your mind and distract yourself.
Surround yourself with pleasant sights and smells.
Get ample rest.
Take antiemetics as prescribed by your doctor.
There are many groups of antiemetics that may be prescribed based on the cause. Some commonly prescribed drugs include:
Here are some signs to watch out for in case of persistent vomiting:
Dryness of lips and mouth.
Preventive tips for nausea include:
Instead of two or three large meals, eat small meals throughout the day.
Try eating slowly.
Do not consume foods that are hard to digest.
Rest after you eat and keep your head elevated.
If you get nauseated in the morning, eat some snacks befor getting out of bed.
Instead of drinking water during meals, drink it between meals.
Drink plenty of water every day.
And ways to prevent nausea from turning into vomit are:
Consume small amounts of sweetened and clear liquids such as fruit juices (avoid orange and grapefruit as they are too acidic). Sugary drinks calm the stomach down.
Avoid doing any activity for a while and take rest.
To know more about the causes and treatment for nausea and vomiting, consult a doctor online now!
To control nausea and vomiting, medications such as Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate, and Dramamine (for motion sickness) can help. Apart from this, home remedies like aromatherapy (scents of clove, lavender, peppermint), ginger or fennel tea, and deep breathing can also help.
Sudden nausea is seen in peptic ulcers, motion sickness, food poisoning, and pregnancy.
The following tips can relieve nausea:
- Sitting up straight.
- Sitting in front of a fan.
- Cool compresses on the back of the neck.
- Sip on clear fluids, lemon or chamomile tea.
- Inhale peppermint essential oil.
- Take antiemetic medications.
Yes, stress and anxiety can result in various mental and physical symptoms, including nausea. When you are extremely stressed or anxious, you feel your stomach churn. This can result in nausea and even vomiting.
Yes, dehydration is known to cause nausea. Severe dehydration can result in nausea and dizziness, which can make you throw up and lose more water. Dehydration can also lower your blood pressure, again resulting in nausea.
Hunger pangs, which is caused by the buildup of acids in the stomach or stomach contraction, can indeed make you nauseous. Stomach acids can also regurgitate and result in nausea.
If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms along with nausea, then get immediate medical help:
- Chest pain.
- Severe headache.
- Jaw pain.
- Profuse sweating.
- Breathing difficulty.
- Stiff neck.
Nausea is commonly associated with chemotherapy, which are drugs given to treat cancer. But in some cases, cancer of the bowel can lead to bowel obstruction, nausea, or vomiting.
Yes, it is. Viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection of the stomach can result in nausea, stomach cramps and pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Last reviewed at:
13 Jun 2020 - 5 min read
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