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Nausea and vomiting

Published on May 8, 2020 at 8:00 / Updated on November 23, 2020 at 18:51

Nausea is the unpleasant sensation you feel in your chest or stomach when you think you're about to vomit. Vomiting is when your stomach contents are propelled out of your body through your mouth. Nausea is usually followed by vomiting, but it's possible for one to occur without the other.

Depending on the cause, nausea and vomiting may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty digesting
  • Loss of appetite

Causes and triggers

Many things can cause nausea and vomiting, including the following:

  • Food poisoning
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Motion sickness
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications (e.g., morphine, chemotherapy)
  • Migraines
  • Alcohol
  • An abdominal problem (e.g., infection, bowel obstruction)
  • A brain disorder (e.g., concussion, infection, tumour, bleeding)

The most common causes are drugs, gastroenteritis, and alcohol.

Treatment

Some causes of nausea and vomiting can have serious consequences on your health and should be treated by a health care professional. Others are not serious and can be treated at home.

If you experience nausea or vomiting, it can help to take the following measures:

  • Wait 30 minutes after vomiting before eating or drinking
  • After 30 minutes, slowly start to rehydrate with fluids like water, diluted juice, and broth
  • Increase your fluid intake if you don't have any more vomiting
  • If you're keeping fluids down, start eating again gradually (e.g., soup, crackers, bread, Jell-O)
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee, and soft drinks

You can also take medications for nausea, depending on the cause and severity.

When should I see a health care professional?

Speak with your health care provider if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Stomach or chest pain
  • Headaches or neck stiffness
  • High fever
  • Blood in your vomit, or diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting multiple times after a blow to the head
  • Vomiting over more than 24–48 hours
  • Difficulty drinking a few sips of water without vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration
    • Significant thirst
    • Dizziness
    • Dark urine
    • Dry mouth
    • Significant fatigue or weakness (i.e., you have difficulty getting up)
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