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Vomiting - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Diet And Home Remedies

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2023

What is Vomiting?

When food is thrown out of the stomach involuntarily or voluntarily through the mouth, is called vomiting. It happens for a wide variety of reasons like – motion sickness/ seasickness, the first trimester of pregnancy, emotional stress, gall bladder disease, infections, heart attack, overeating, brain tumour, cancer, ulcers, bulimia, and ingestion of toxins or excess alcohol.

Why do we vomit when sick?

Vomiting is the body's way to protect the body from the external threat of bacteria, viruses, poisons, or some irritating substance. The purpose of the vomiting is to empty out the contents of the stomach that might hurt the body.

What are the signs you feel like vomiting?

Signs of vomiting:

  • Food poisoning: Consuming food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, usually causes of food poisoning. Its symptoms are not very severe but if the conditions persist then a person needs to go to the doctor.
  • Indigestion: This is a very common condition which happens to everyone these days because of contaminated food or some of the chronic digestion problems.
  • Stomach flu: Also known as viral gastroenteritis, causes when there is inflammation in the stomach and intestine.
  • Gastritis: Weaken stomach lines allow digestive juices to damage and inflame it. This causes the feeling of vomiting and nausea.

Symptoms of vomiting:

Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever, vertigo, excessive sweating, dry mouth, decreased urination, fainting, anxiety, depression, confusion, excessive sleeplessness, blood vomit are some of the common symptoms of vomiting.

What happens in your stomach when you throw up?

Whenever you are about to throw up, the abdomen Muscles contract and increase the pressure and stomach, additional the pyloric sphincter is held closed which moves the content of the stomach upward.

And to protect the mouth from the acid content of the stomach, the salivary glands produce extra saliva which is alkaline and form a buffer against the acid and help protect the mouth and the teeth.

What causes vomiting?

The causes of vomiting change according to age and condition where everyone has to face a different problem related to it. In children, it is common that they can have a feeling of vomiting due to fever, food poisoning, milk allergy, overeating, etc. Normally it appears shortly after meals and most of the time it happens either due to food poisoning, overeating, indigestion, gastritis, or ulcers.

The causes of vomiting can vary depending on the underlying condition.

A. Vomiting in adults

Some of the most common causes of vomiting in adults are as follows:

  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Medical conditions such as migraines, motion sickness, vertigo etc.
  • Medications and treatments like chemotherapy

B. Vomiting in babies

Vomiting is a common condition that affects infants and babies. Some of the factors that lead to vomiting in infants and babies are:

  • Gastroenteritis (an infection of the gut)
  • Allergy to certain foods
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix)
  • Accidental ingestion of a poisonous substance

C. Vomiting when pregnant

Vomiting is something that occurs commonly during pregnancy. It is usually due to morning sickness that occurs due to fluctuation in hormone levels during pregnancy. Fluctuations in hormone levels are also known to have an adverse impact on digestion. Slowed digestion can cause:

All the above mentioned conditions can trigger vomiting during pregnancy.

D. Vomiting during menstruation

Vomiting is a common occurrence during menstruation. Prostaglandin is one of the hormones that are released by the female body during the menstrual cycle. Sometimes this hormone gets into the bloodstream and may trigger nausea and vomiting.

What causes uncontrollable vomiting?

The causes of uncontrollable vomiting are:

  • Gastroenteritis:

    It is caused by the virus that is transmitted by touching your nose, mouth, and eyes after being in contact with the person who is carrying the virus. It usually lasts for 3 to 4 days and vomiting is the common symptom of gastroenteritis.

  • Food poisoning:

    Vomiting is a typical symptom of food poisoning, it usually goes away in approximately 8 hours.

  • Motion sickness:

    Sometimes being in a car or choppy water can cause motion sickness accompanied by vomiting.

  • Pregnancy:

    Morning sickness and nausea are common during pregnancy.

  • Stress

Can Vomiting go away on its own?

In most cases, the condition of vomiting gets resolved spontaneously by home remedies and over-the-counter medicines and such cases do not need any consultation with a doctor. However, in some cases, the symptoms are not as easy to handle and are evident by more frequency as well as long-term stay. Such cases should be taken seriously and discussed with a doctor.

How Vomiting is diagnosed?

The condition of vomiting is diagnosed on some basis which includes family and medical history of the individual, physical examination, and pattern or cycle of symptoms in adults as well as children. In addition to these, some medical tests were performed in the lab such as blood and urine tests, imaging tests, and upper GI endoscopy are also the ways for the diagnosis.


Who is eligible for the treatment?

The condition of nausea and vomiting in mild or moderate cases is usually overcome by the application of some home remedies and over-the-counter medicines. But in some cases, when the symptoms are severe, there may be a need for urgent medical attention and consultation.

Those signs and symptoms that evoke such need include vomiting occurring for a comparatively longer duration and followed by diarrhoea, high fever, abdominal pain, blood in the vomiting, and severe dehydration.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

In most cases, the condition of vomiting gets resolved spontaneously by home remedies and over-the-counter medicines and such cases do not need any consultation with a doctor. The symptoms are mild or moderate in such cases i.e vomiting occurs for a few hours only and is not associated with any complications like dehydration, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, etc. hence such cases can be self-treated at home and do not require any medical attention.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Some of the post-treatment guidelines which are preferred to be followed for the prevention and better management of vomiting are as follows:

  • Smaller meals should be taken at bigger intervals of time.
  • Bland foods need to be preferred in place of a normal diet and spicy or oily foods.
  • Easily digestible food items should be consumed such as low fiber, low fat, and low sugar foods.
  • BRAT diet i.e bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast or soda crackers should be preferred to be followed.
  • Fluid intake must be increased to cope up with dehydration.
  • Alcohol, caffeine, milk, cheese, citrus fruits, and juices should be avoided.

When should you visit the doctor for vomiting?

Vomiting is not very serious but if the symptoms start getting worse then it becomes necessary to see the doctor. If vomiting is accompanied by blurred vision, severe pain in the abdomen, the feeling of dizziness, high fever then you are unable to keeping liquid in the body for 12 hours.

How is vomiting treated?

  • Drinking liquids in the larger amount
  • Eating solid foods must be avoided
  • If the feeling of nausea or vomiting lasts for up to 24 hours then there are chances of dehydration hence Pedialyte must be taken to avoid it
  • Discontinue taking oral medicines which irritate the stomach and gives the feeling of vomiting

What to do when u feel like vomiting?

These are the things you can do if you feel like vomiting:

  • Sit up to avoid crunching or pressing the stomach
  • Sitting in front of a fan or window helps
  • Acupressure
  • Taking deep breaths or meditation
  • Shifting the focus
  • Keeping yourself rehydrated by avoiding carbonated beverages

What are the side effects of Vomiting treatments?

The condition of vomiting is usually preceded by nausea. Though various self-care methods are applicable including home remedies and over-the-counter medications, they are followed by some of the symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, vertigo, lightheadedness, dry mouth, high pulse rate, and excessive sweating.

How long does it take to recover from Vomiting?

The time duration which is generally required to recover from vomiting depends upon the cause and severity of the symptoms. In most cases, the recovery period is up to three days when symptoms are mild or moderate, while it may extend up to days in severe conditions when serious symptoms such as dehydration occur and it evokes a medical emergency.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Vomiting, being the sign or symptom of any systemic or physiological disorder in the body, can be treated by several methods including home remedies as well as medications. But the results of the treatment are not permanent as the condition may reoccur due to triggering factors like food poisoning, nausea, overeating, alcohol intake, pregnancy, some medications, and certain procedures such as chemotherapy.

How to induce vomiting?

Vomiting can be described as the voluntary or involuntary discharge of stomach contents via the mouth in a forceful manner. Vomiting is often induced to get relief from nausea or to get rid of excess food (the latter is a symptom of an eating disorder). Many people induce vomiting when they ingest something deemed harmful or poisonous.

Doctors and medical experts usually warn against inducing vomiting. This is because vomiting is associated with certain risks. The risks are specifically high for people who try to induce vomiting to get rid of the ingested poisonous substance.

Inducing vomiting does not help in removing the poison from the stomach completely. In fact, trying to vomit certain poisons such as acids or chemicals can cause burns or injury to the oesophagus, throat or oral cavity.

According to studies, inducing vomiting is associated with reduced effectiveness of the treatment. In fact, throwing up after ingesting poison can significantly raise the risk of severe complications.

Inducing vomiting is also known to cause:

  • dehydration
  • injury to throat and mouth tissues
  • inhalation of stomach contents into the lungs (aspiration)

Therefore, you should try to avoid inducing vomiting. However, you can induce vomiting under the supervision of a physician. In such a case, carefully follow the instructions of the physician to safely induce vomiting.

How can you stop vomiting?

Vomiting is the way through which the body purges out waste material. The brain and stomach give the body permission to throw contaminated food out of the body. Though vomiting at times is required by the body it needs to be stopped and here are the ways of doing it:

  • Deep breathing: If a person is having a feel to vomit then he/she must try deep breathing through lungs and nose and there should be an expansion in your lungs while breathing. This helps at the time of vomiting. It has been seen in the researches that deep breaths also help in calming down anxiety which is another cause for vomiting.
  • Eating bland crackers: Eating dry crackers that are bland or saltine in taste helps in morning sickness as they absorb acids of the stomach. Bland crackers give relief during the morning sickness and eating them 15 mins before going down to sleep helps your stomach to relax.
  • Drinking more fluids: Due to much vomiting, the body tends to become dehydrated and to prevent the body from being dehydrated you should drink lots of liquid. Fluids that keep the body hydrated are ginger ale, mint tea, lemonade, water.
  • Medications to stop vomiting: Medicines which help to stop medicines are Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate contain bismuth subsalicylate which work to protect the stomach lining thus reducing the impact caused by food poisoning.

How can I stop vomiting immediately?

Some ways to stop vomiting are:

  • Deep breaths
  • Wrist acupressure
  • Drinking fluids such as water, ginger ale, lemonade, or mint tea to avoid dehydration
  • Medications such as Pepto-Bismol

Which medicine is best to stop vomiting?

Medications such as:

  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Meclizine
  • Hyoscine
  • Dicyclomine
  • Promethazine
  • Bismuth
  • Dimenhydrinate
  • Kaopectate
  • Promethazine thiolate
  • Doxylamine
  • Pyridoxine/doxylamine

What are the foods to eat when vomiting?

Some of the foods that you can think of after a bout of vomiting are:

A. Foods to eat when vomiting

You should not eat anything when vomiting. Consumption of solid foods when vomiting can cause nausea and worsen vomiting. Wait for a few hours before eating any anything. Meanwhile, keep yourself hydrated by sipping on cool water. When hungry, consume bland foods and avoid foods that are spicy or rich in fats, proteins and fibre. Resume your normal meals gradually.

B. Foods to eat after vomiting

Try not to eat anything immediately after vomiting. Wait for a few hours. However, if you feel you hungry or if you have waited for a few hours after vomiting, then you can consume small amounts of bland foods such as banana, rice, oatmeal, plain yoghurt etc.

If possible, try to follow the BRAT (Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) Diet. This diet is low on nutrients such as fats, proteins and fibre. Lower intake of these nutrients helps reduce the amount of stool produced. This allows the gut to rest and recover.

C. Liquids to drink after vomiting

Vomiting too frequently can lead to dehydration. Therefore, the first thing to do after vomiting is to hydrate the body. This can be done by drinking water and other hydrating fluids such as lemonade, ginger ale and apple juice. However, do not consume milk or citric fruit juices. Also, avoid sugary beverages as they can cause dehydration.

It is important to remember that water and other hydrating fluids should not be consumed in large quantities immediately after throwing up as that can worsen the condition and lead to more vomiting. Start with sipping small amounts and then gradually increase the intake. If vomiting continues for over 24 hours, then you should consider taking an oral rehydration solution to reduce the risk of dehydration.

D. Foods to help avoid vomiting

There are certain foods that you can consume when feeling nauseated. Intake of the following foods can help overcome nausea and avoid vomiting are : Consume small portions of dry foods, such as dry cereals, toast, and oatmeal.. You can also consume bananas, boiled potatoes, rice etc.

Eat foods that are cool. Avoid intake of hot and spicy foods as they may cause irritation in the stomach and worsen the condition. Avoid sugar and fried foods. Avoid foods that have a strong smell. An intense smell can lead to nausea.

What to drink after vomiting?

Drinks to have after vomiting:

  • Sips of water
  • Non-carbonated soft drinks
  • Weak tea
  • Non Caffeinated drinks
  • Sugary drinks

What's good to eat to stop vomiting?

Dry foods such as toast, dry cereal, crackers are good to stop vomiting. These provide nutrients and also help settle the contents of your stomach. Also, it is advised to have cold food rather than hot or spicy such as fruit juice, non-fat yoghurt, sherbet, or non-caffeinated drinks.

What not to eat in Vomiting?

Most of the cases of vomiting can be controlled by self-care methods including home remedies that involve preference of foods to be taken or avoided. Generally, normal diets are not to be taken in such conditions and it is replaced by bland foods. Difficult to digest food items such as alcohol, caffeine, milk, cheese, spicy foods, and fats or oils must be avoided.

Is Vomiting Harmful?

Vomiting is not harmful to the body as it helps the body to take the harmful substances out of the body but if it becomes unstoppable then it can lead to dehydration in the body. Loss of too much water from the body can be a dangerous situation and needs a doctor. There can be some more examples of the seriousness of vomiting like intestinal blockage, brain tumor, meningitis.

Is vomiting a sign of infection?

Vomiting Is the typical sign of infection in adults, it is usually gastroenteritis. This infection is induced by a bacteria or virus that transmits from person to person. Gastroenteritis takes 3 to 4 days to go away.

However, vomiting is sometimes a sign of a severe medical condition such as appendicitis. Thus, if it is accompanied by chest pain, abdominal pain, cramps, fever it is advised to get a doctor's diagnosis.

How can you prevent vomiting?

These are several ways in which vomiting can be prevented:

  • Eating small meals throughout the day
  • Avoiding food which is hard to digest
  • Foods that are cold or at room temperature must be eaten as the smell of hot food can make you feel nauseated
  • Liquids should not be taken in between foods

What to do after vomiting?

Some of the measures that you can take to recover after a bout of vomiting are:

  • Keep yourself hydrated: Drink water and hydrating fluids to prevent dehydration after vomiting. However, do not drink too much in one go. Remember to sip small amounts. Avoid milk and citric juices.
  • Start with bland foods: Try not to eat anything for a few hours after vomiting. If hungry, consume small amounts of bland foods such as banana, rice, plain yoghurt, oatmeal etc.
  • Avoid foods that may cause irritation: Try to avoid intake of foods and beverages such as spicy foods, milk, tea, cheese, alcohol etc. as these may trigger irritation.
  • Avoid strong smells: Try to avoid inhalation of strong or pungent smell can lead to a gag reflex.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The common treatment for vomiting usually involves diet change i.e switching over to a bland diet in place of the normal diet. But there exist some alternative methods which may be preferred for the treatment. Those methods include medicinal therapy, herbal therapy, and relaxation along with dexamethasone, massage therapy, and ginger.

Summary: Vomiting is usually an involuntary action or reflex, followed by an expulsion of stomach contents through the oral passage. It may be the sign or symptom of any systemic or physiological disorder in the body. The condition is usually overcome by the application of home remedies and over-the-counter medicines. But in severe cases such as prolonged vomiting followed by diarrhoea, high fever, abdominal pain, blood in the vomiting, and dehydration, there is a need for urgent medical attention and consultation.

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Written ByDr. Goma Bali Bajaj Diploma in geriatric,MBBS,MEM,Diploma In GeriatricGeneral Physician
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