HomeHealth A-ZNausea and Vomiting - Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Nausea and Vomiting – Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Overview

Nausea and vomiting are symptoms that every one of us has experienced in life. They can occur in both children as well as adults. Although found in many people, this symptom is more common amongst pregnant women and those undergoing cancer treatment. In fact, nausea, and 50% experiences additional vomiting affect 70-80% of the pregnant population.

 What are Nausea and Vomiting?

Nausea is the uncomfortable feeling in the pits of your stomach that is accompanied by an urge to vomit. Vomit is the involuntary or voluntary expulsion of contents in the stomach via the mouth. Vomiting is not only a result of stomach issues, but it could also be triggered by the inner ear (dizziness and motion sickness) or even the brain (head injury, brain infections, tumors, and migraine headaches).

There is a difference between nausea and vomiting. The feeling is described as nausea, and the act of throwing up contents in the stomach is vomiting. One need not always come with the other.

 When to see a doctor

The timing of the two symptoms can indicate the cause. You can find a rough guideline outlined below. If these symptoms occur within an hour of consumption of food, the underlying condition could be eating orders or peptic ulcers. Upto a period of eight hours after a meal, it could mean food poisoning. Other food-borne diseases such as salmonella could incubate for longer before manifesting as symptoms.

Most adults experiencing these symptoms should feel relief from them in a day. Do consider consulting a doctor if the symptoms persist for longer than a week, if there is a chance of pregnancy, or if there is a known head injury. Most cases can be treated at home, but if your home treatment is not working, as it should be, do visit a doctor.

For children under six years of age, a doctor visit is recommended when:

  • Vomiting lasts for more than a few hours
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • No urination for over 6 hours

For children over six years, the guidelines are as follows:

  • Vomiting lasts one day
  • Diarrhea for 24 hours
  • Dehydration
  • Fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit
  • No urination for over 6 hours

The guidelines mentioned above can be ignored if you notice any of the following symptoms. These indicate that the condition is urgent and requires immediate attention.

  • Blood in your vomit
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Severe headache or stiff neck
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Rapid breathing

Causes

The causes for these symptoms could be varied, but a list of common causes is below:

  • Motion sickness
  • Early pregnancy (in 50-90% cases, nausea occurs, and vomiting in 25%-55%)
  • Side effects of medication
  • Intense pain
  • Food poisoning
  • Emotional stress
  • Stomach flu
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Overeating
  • Reaction to certain smells
  • Brain injury

The most common causes can vary according to age. For children, a viral infection, overeating, food poisoning, motion sickness, coughing, illnesses where they have high fever could all be the underlying cause. However, in adults, the most common are viral infection, food poisoning, or motion sickness. 

In rarer cases, vomiting could be symptoms of something more serious. These are not common, so it would be better to consult with a doctor to get a formal diagnosis.

  • Concussions
  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Brain tumors
  • Migraine headache
  • Appendicitis

 Treatment

Irrespective of the cause, the following methods can be used to treat nausea and vomiting. If they do not seem to help, then do consult with a doctor.

Controlling nausea

When you start to feel nauseous, the first thing to do is to start eating smaller meals and slower throughout the day. Ensure that your meals are rich in protein – you can include foods such as cheese, lean meats, or nuts (before you go to bed). Keep the food bland as something spicy might upset your stomach even more. Cold drinks are preferred over hotter ones. Find periods of time when the nausea is not at its peak and try to eat then. Rest your head high after eating.

Controlling vomiting

Drinking water is critical as dehydration is a significant concern when it comes to vomiting. Your body loses a lot of fluids, especially if vomiting is joined by diarrhea as well. Sugary liquids such as fruit juices that are not acidic can also help. Ginger ale and ginger may help soothe your stomach. Avoid solid food, and keep the diet as bland as possible until symptoms exist. For ease from the vomiting, your doctor may prescribe an antiemetic.

Diagnosis

To find the cause of nausea and vomiting, the doctor might perform a physical examination, accompanied by some laboratory tests. The most common cause for these symptoms is the stomach flu.

Prevention

How you can prevent nausea

Preventing nausea majorly involves making lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet and reducing consumption of alcohol and other substances. This reduces the risk of alcohol poisoning. In terms of diet, eating smaller and evenly spaced out meals that are well-balanced in all the macronutrients should do you a lot of good. Drinking water between meals rather than during could also help.

If motion sickness is something you face often, there are medications that are sold over-the-counter to help you prevent it.

How you can prevent vomiting if nauseous already

If you’re already nauseous, try to keep your activity level at a minimum, as this could prompt vomiting. Sit upright and take rest, as opposed to lying down, until the symptom dies down. Slowly consuming water and other sugary liquids (fruit juices – not orange) can help calm your stomach down.

Conclusion

Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms that are mostly harmless and might not require any hospital visit. Controlling your diet and taking rest are the two most important things to do during this period. Dehydration is a huge concern, so keep drinking water. Only if these symptoms last longer should you consult your nearest doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the complications that could arise from the persistence of nausea and vomiting?

These symptoms lasting for a long time can lead to severe dehydration. These conditions could be worse if the person is already dehydrated.

  1. Can I use hydration solutions?

Dehydration is a concern during vomiting. If there is severe dehydration, then it would not hurt to nourish your body again with an electrolyte solution.

  1. How to prevent motion sickness?

Facing any fast movement will cause motion sickness, so be seated in such a place where you cannot see the movement, ideally away from the window. Reading or playing games on the phone could also increase the risk of motion sickness.

  1. What are the symptoms of dehydration?

The main symptoms are thirst, dry lips, and mouth. This is especially important to look for in children as they might not be able to communicate it to you. Another identification of dehydration in children is the time they have not urinated.  

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