Vomiting and Nausea have many possible causes and some of these causes can be serious while others can be benign. No matter the cause, vomiting, and nausea can be debilitating and feel awful. For one to get better, find out why you got sick in the first place.
In recent population studies, more than 50% of adults reported at least an episode of nausea and less than 30% of adults reported an episode of vomiting within the preceding 12 months.
Some of the common causes of vomiting and nausea include stomach viruses, food poisoning, migraines, overindulgence in alcohol, and pregnancy. These causes can be treated with rest, hydration, and medications.
More serious causes of nausea and vomiting may include:
- Brain injury
- Some cancer types
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Heart attack
- Kidney or liver disorders
- Intestinal obstruction
Many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy also suffer from vomiting and nausea. Children commonly vomit due to motion sickness, viruses, high fevers, and overeating, but they may also vomit for serious reasons.
It’s crucial to know if you need medical attention or if you can nurse yourself at home until you recover. Vomiting that lasts for long can lead to dehydration and it can become a medical issue. That’s why it’s important that you know why you are sick.
Consider all the possible causes
How the vomiting started and the symptoms you have might help you know its cause. If you were fine and all of a sudden you started vomiting, it could be a sign of a potentially serious problem like an intestinal obstruction or appendicitis.
If you started experiencing severe abdominal pain with nausea and vomiting, it may be a sign of appendicitis. You need to contact your healthcare provider if that’s the case.
If you have a severe headache without symptoms of a stomach bug, it could be a sign of serious illness like meningitis. If you experience a vomiting and severe headache, you should seek medical attention immediately. If you had vomiting and diarrhea and then developed a headache, that could be a sign of dehydration.
If you had nausea or diarrhea before vomiting, it could because of a stomach bug. Perhaps it’s a virus like gastroenteritis or a bacteria like salmonella or E. coli. In most cases, it will get better on their own, but those with weak immune systems and children can develop complications.
If you have a fever, it could be a sign of a stomach virus. If the fever comes with vomiting and diarrhea with no other symptoms, you can start treating yourself at home unless you are dehydrated. However, if you have vomiting and high fever without diarrhea, it could be a sign of a more serious illness. Check if you have other symptoms and find care of your disease from a healthcare provider.
If you had a head injury in the past 24 hours and you started vomiting, consider seeking medical attention. It could be a sign of increased pressure or a concussion.
If you are moving or traveling, you might experience vomiting and nausea. Motion sickness is common when traveling in boats, airplanes, and cars.
If you have vomiting, fever, and painful urination, it could be a sign of urinary tract infection. If you believe that you might have a urinary tract infection, you need to go for a check-up for testing and treatment with antibiotics.
Look before flushing
It might be gross, but your vomit’s consistency can offer some information about the cause of vomiting. Have a look at it and see if its:
The food you ate – Most vomiting looks like what you ate last. If you vomit a few times and I consist of food, this could be food poisoning, stomach virus or something entirely different like pregnancy.
Bright Green – A bright green vomit is bile. It can signal a serious illness in children and this could mean that immediate medical attention is required. This can also occur when someone has vomited a lot that there is no food anymore in the stomach. This might indicate dehydration.
Coffee grounds – If you have black vomit that looks like coffee grounds, it could be blood. Blood that’s not fresh would usually turn dark and look black after vomiting. Although it might not be internal bleeding, when you have black vomit, you should consider a medical emergency.
When to see your doctor when vomiting
Most of the time, vomiting is caused by a virus and will usually go away in 24 hours. There is no reason to seek medical attention as long as you are not dehydrated.
However, some illnesses that cause vomiting require immediate or urgent medical attention.
In general, if you have these signs below, you need to see a healthcare provider:
- Severe abdominal pain
- A severe headache with stiff neck and vomiting
- History of head injury in the past 24 hours
Home remedy for vomiting
If you have a stomach bug and other causes of vomiting, you can nurse yourself back to health by resting and taking small sips of a liquid to a BRAT diet.
Rest – This involves resting your stomach and body. Don’t drink or eat anything for about 20 minutes after vomiting. Lay down and don’t do any physical activity while sick.
Clear liquids – If you don’t vomit for 20 minutes, try introducing clear liquids such as an electrolyte drink or water every 10 minutes. As you keep taking clear liquids and notice that you can tolerate it, slowly increase the amount each time you drink. Continue taking clear liquids for at least 6 hours. If you start vomiting again, start again by resting and don’t take anything.
BRAT Diet – This diet involves taking bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. If you take clear liquids for at least 6 hours and you feel ok, you can begin eating the diet. You can add dry crackers, mashed potatoes, and pretzels. These foods are easy to digest.
Few medications can be used for the treatment of vomiting and nausea. OTC medications are ineffective, but they may help with an upset stomach and nausea. Some of the OTC medications for treatment of vomiting and nausea include:
- Pepto Bismol, Kaopectate