What is Vomiting?
Vomiting is a forceful
discharge of stomach contents. Vomiting can be a one-time event linked to
something that doesnât settle right in the stomach. Recurrent vomiting may be
attributed to numerous underlying medical conditions. Frequent vomiting may
also lead to dehydration. This is a potentially deadly condition when left
Causes of Vomiting
Vomiting is common. Eating
too much food or alcohol can make a person throw up. This generally isnât a
cause for concern. Vomiting itself is not a condition, but rather a symptom of
other conditions. Some common causes of this symptom include:
(associated with bacterial and viral illnesses)motion sicknesspregnancy-related
Frequent vomiting not
related to any of these causes may be a symptom of cyclic vomiting syndrome. This condition is characterized by
vomiting for up to 10 days at a time. It is usually coupled with nausea and
extreme lack of energy. It mainly occurs during childhood.
While it also affects
adults, recurrent vomiting is often dismissed as being related to another
condition. According to the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical
Communications, up to 2,000 out of every 100,000 children experience cyclic
vomiting syndrome (LHNCBC). When
left untreated, this condition can cause vomiting episodes several times
throughout the year.
While vomiting is a common
symptom, certain conditions warrant emergency medical attention. A doctor
should be sought immediately if a person:
vomits for more
than one daysuspects food
poisoninghas a severe
headache accompanied by stiff neckhas severe
Blood in the vomit is
another reason to call emergency services. Also called hematemesis, vomiting blood refers to a situation in which a
amounts of red bloodspits up dark
bloodcoughs up a
substance that looks like coffee grounds
Throwing up small amounts of
blood is not hematemesis. Vomiting blood is often caused by ulcers, ruptured blood
vessels, and stomach bleeding. It can also be caused by some forms of cancer.
This condition is often accompanied by dizziness. A person who vomits blood
should call a doctor immediately.
Complications of Vomiting
Dehydration is the most
common vomiting related complication. When you throw up, your stomach not only
expels food, you also lose fluids. Dehydration can cause:
dry mouthfatiguedark urinedecreased
This complication is
especially serious in infants and young children who vomit. This is because younger
children have less fluid to sustain themselves due to smaller body mass. Parents whose children show symptoms of
dehydration should talk to a pediatrician immediately.
Malnutrition is another
complication of vomiting. Failure to keep down solid foods causes the body to
gradually lose nutrients. People experiencing excessive fatigue and weakness
related to frequent vomiting should seek medical attention.
Generally, treatment for
vomiting addresses the underlying cause. Treatment is not necessary for
throwing up once in a while. Hydration is important, even if a patient vomits
only once. Drinking clear liquids is recommended, preferably those containing
electrolytes. These help provide essential nutrients lost through vomiting. Avoiding
food until six hours after a person has finished vomiting is also recommended.
Solid foods can irritate a sensitive stomach, increasing the chances of
For frequent vomiting, a doctor
might prescribe antiemetic drugs. These medications help to reduce episodes of
throwing up. Alternative remedies, such as ginger, bergamot, and lemongrass oil
may also help. Use of supplements should be authorized by a doctor as they may
cause drug interactions.
Dietary changes can also
help recurrent vomiting. These are especially helpful for morning sickness. Foods
that help to alleviate vomiting include:
non-greasy foodssmaller meals
throughout the daysaltine crackers
to ward off nauseaginger products,
such as ginger ale
Treatment plans are the best
course of action for related medical conditions. Triggers of vomiting can vary
between patients. These may include:
alcohol consumptioneating too much
eatingstress hot or spicy
foodslack of sleep
Adopting better lifestyle
habits can help prevent vomiting episodes. While the occasional flu virus
cannot be avoided, knowing how to treat recurrent vomiting can help a person avoid
further health complications.