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Vomiting

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23 Aug, 2018

Vomiting is the forceful involuntary (or voluntary if induced) expulsion of stomach contents through the mouth. Vomiting can be caused by several reasons. It can be a one-time event where one vomits due to ingesting something that is unpleasant to the stomach, or it can occur multiple times in the due course of a disease or an illness. Vomiting leads to dehydration hence excessive vomiting can have serious consequences, so it is very important to keep yourself hydrating in these episodes.

 

Causes

  • Motion sickness or seasickness that may or may not be associated with traveling
  • Pregnancy-related nausea due to hormonal changes
  • Drug-induced vomiting
  • Emotional stress (such as fear)
  • Gallbladder disease [for e.g. gallbladder inflammation (acute cholecystitis)]
  • Food poisoning
  • Infections (such as the "stomach flu")
  • Overeating
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • An adverse reaction to certain unpleasant odors
  • Heart attack
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Bulimia or other psychological illnesses
  • Gastroparesis or slow stomach emptying (a condition observed in diabetes)
  • Ingestion of toxins
  • Migraines
  • Labyrinthitis – an inner ear disorder that causes vertigo and nausea
  • Side effect of certain antibiotics and opioid painkillers
  • Kidney infections and kidney stones
  • Bowel blockage, which may be caused by a hernia or gallstones
  • Brain disorders such as brain tumor, any brain injury or concussion
  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy

 

Symptoms

Vomiting itself is a symptom of various illnesses. But certain associated symptoms may risk towards a complication and medical help should be sought immediately for:

  • Blood in the vomit (points towards internal bleeding in the stomach due to ulcers, or broken blood vessels or maybe even any cancer)
  • Suspected food poisoning
  • Vomiting more than once a day
  • Severe abdominal pain and/or a headache

 

Treatment & Prevention

  • Treatment for vomiting once in a while is not needed but it is important to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Drink clear liquids, especially electrolyte-rich fluids as they provide vital nutrients and ions lost through vomiting. Severe dehydration may also require treatment with intravenous fluids.
  • Avoid solid foods as they irritate the stomach.
  • Sometimes antiemetic drugs can be prescribed by the doctor. These help to reduce episodes of vomiting, e.g. omeprazole, domperidone, etc.
  • Some tried and tested home remedies include:
    • Slow and deep breathing
    • Drinking fluids such as ginger ale, mint tea, and lemonade reduce nausea and vomiting
    • Eating soda crackers such as saltines, or a dry toast or a chocolate can help alleviate nausea during motion sickness
    • Wrist acupressure to massage the pressure points on your wrist helps reduce nausea