Nausea and Vomiting
That rumbling, gurgling feeling in the pit of your stomach is something we all know. Once it begins to bubble, nausea can quickly lead to vomiting in some cases. Even when it’s the only symptom, nausea can ruin a good day, and may soon find you running for your medicine cabinet. But maybe you should be running for a glass of water, or even a natural remedy like ginger. Then again, depending on your symptoms, it’s possible that you should head directly to the doctor.
In this article, our medical experts provide details about nausea and vomiting treatments and home remedies. You will learn some of the common causes, such as pregnancy, morning sickness, and food poisoning, as well as foods that can ease an upset stomach. Discover the remedies that will help you take charge of your health, and the health of your family.
What’s Causing Your Nausea?
When your stomach is upset, even reaching for a glass of water can cause painful discomfort. But while you search for a remedy, you should consider the cause of your unease. In the case of this health symptom, the cause may be mild, but it may also be severe—sometimes even life-threatening.
Some of the relatively mild causes of nausea that can lead to vomiting include food allergies, stomach flu, food poisoning, acid reflux, and migraine headaches. Some of the more serious causes include head injury, diabetes, vertigo/stroke, heart problems, pancreatitis, appendicitis, accidental drug ingestion, bowel obstruction and cancer.
If you experience nausea and vomiting, dehydration may result. To prevent it, be sure to stay hydrated. Thirst relief can be especially difficult when it’s hard to keep anything down. It’s even worse if your health symptoms include diarrhea. But even if you’re throwing up, some of the water you drink will be absorbed.
Dehydration can be mild or severe. Mild dehydration causes few problems, but in its severe form, dehydration can be life-threatening. Sometimes when a person begins to throw up dehydration comes on quickly.
Remember—water isn’t the only substance that can ease thirst. Tea—either hot tea or cold tea—can be a pleasant way to hydrate, and a decaffeinated choice is best. Sports drinks are good choices too, as is Pedialyte and similar drinks.
If you’ve just vomited, go slow. Start with a small amount of liquid—just a few tablespoons every few minutes to start. Slowly over time, increase the liquid as you’re able to hold it down.
If you’re worried about dehydration, ask yourself—are you urinating regularly? This is one of the clearest indications of whether or not you are getting enough to drink.
Foods for Nausea
For a long time, conventional health wisdom said to treat nausea with flat lemon lime soda or ginger ale. But this remedy has been put to the test, and it turns out sports drinks, Pedialyte and similar offerings do a better job of replacing fluids than flat soda.
With that in mind, here are some other strategies for keeping down food if you’re nauseous. Once you’ve quenched your thirst, move on to foods that are soft and bland. A few examples include plain yogurt, bread, and Saltine crackers. And eat your meals slowly, providing plenty of time to digest the small amounts of food you’re feeding yourself.
Sticking to Liquids
What to eat when nauseous but hungry? While you're just easing back into food, start with something that contains a lot of fluid. As far as home remedies go, you can’t do better for your health than see-through liquids. These tend to be especially effective remedies to ease nausea and quench dehydration. Good choices include Jell-O, popsicles, and soups with clear broths. Also good are the clearer juices, such as apple juice and cranberry juice.
If you suffer from bad nausea, over-the-counter or prescription medication may be needed. Often a bad bout of nausea and vomiting will go away on its own. The best thing to do in these cases is to wait for the health symptoms to ease on their own. Medicine may be a good choice if symptoms persist, though.
If a child is the one suffering, exercise particular caution before administering an over-the-counter medicine. Don’t do so without the advice of a pediatrician. Many cold and flu medications are not for children, and ignoring the recommended use of these drugs could put your kid in harm’s way. Anti-nausea medication may lead to risks and complications if given to a small child.
For adults, different types of medications are available. There are chewable and liquid antacids like Pepto-Bismol and Emetrol, or motion sickness-controlling medicines like Dramamine and Bonine. If your nausea is ongoing, you may want to ask a doctor about a prescription. Watch out—anti-nausea medicines often lead to sleepiness. So, use caution before driving or carrying out your daily responsibilities—you don’t want to cause harm because your body suddenly craves sleep.
Ginger and the Stomach
From ancient times to the present day, ginger has been used as a treatment for nausea pain. Ginger has a lot going for it. It’s widely available, generally safe, and many people like the taste. But is it effective as an antiemetic?
Researchers recently looked into ginger as a health remedy for upset stomach. They were particularly interested in learning whether ginger was useful in easing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and chemotherapy. They found that ginger is an effective and well-established home remedy for both conditions.
According to the researchers, it’s not precisely known what makes ginger effective, but it may come down to a couple of its more pungent chemicals: gingerol and shogaol. So, the next time you feel stomach pain, eating ginger may be the solution. For nausea, ginger candy, ale, tea, chews and other forms are available.
Morning Sickness and Pregnancy
If you wake up nauseous from morning sickness or during pregnancy in general, you’re not alone. In fact, three out of every four pregnant women will experience morning sickness. Your chances go up if you have a history of migraine pain or if your stomach has been upset during previous pregnancies. If you are pregnant with twins, your odds of morning sickness increase even more.
Morning sickness pregnancy symptoms include nausea and vomiting, which may be triggered by certain smells, exposure to heat or by eating spicy foods.
One way to avoid morning sickness while pregnant is to frequently eat small meals. This allows your system time to digest food, but leaves relatively little food in your stomach at any given time. Always remember to drink plenty of fluids. Getting a breath of fresh air may be a helpful remedy as well. Some say eating watermelon and drinking lemonade can be effective home remedies for pregnant women—and if that suits your cravings, go for it!
Some studies suggest acupuncture can ease symptoms of morning sickness. This is usually done by putting pressure on the groove inside two large tendons of the wrist. Acupressurists call this area P6. Some are skeptical of this treatment. Studies have found that wristbands designed to ease stomach upset by putting pressure on the p6 point are difficult to use. These devices have failed to show any results for stomach upset caused by surgery. Acupressure at the pP6 point may be no more effective for morning sickness than acupressure anywhere else.
When it's Time to Call the Doctor
When should you see a doctor about vomiting and nausea? When every treatment and home remedy for nausea and vomiting isn’t enough, it may be time to put your health needs in the hands of a doctor. Here are red flags warning you that it’s time to seek professional medical intervention:
- The sick person is less than 12 weeks old and has vomited more than one time;
- The sick person shows dehydration signs;
- You believe the sick person may have consumed poison;
- The sick person acts confused, or has a stiff neck, rash, headache, high fever, or stomach pains;
- The sick person’s vomit contains either blood or bile;
- You suspect appendicitis;
- The sick person is difficult to wake up;
- The person has been vomiting for longer than eight hours; or
- Anytime you are worried and feel a doctor’s supervision would be helpful.