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What Causes Vomiting? 7 Reasons Why and How to Ease It

What are the seven most common causes of vomiting?

Morning sickness in pregnancy in a common cause of vomiting.
Morning sickness in pregnancy in a common cause of vomiting.

Vomiting is a reflex directed by the brain toward the intestines to reverse their peristaltic movements to force the contents of the stomach out through the mouth. It is usually a symptom of an underlying disease. Excessive vomiting may dehydrate a person and make them weak, which can turn out to be life-threatening for an individual. There are many causes of vomiting. The most common reasons include the following

  • Gastroenteritis/stomach flu: This is one of the most common causes of vomiting. It is a condition in which viruses, bacteria and parasites cause inflammation in the lining of the stomach. It usually spreads by coming into contact with an infected person or with contaminated food or water.
  • Food poisoning: In food poisoning, the body tries to eliminate a toxic substance by vomiting. Food poisoning occurs by consuming unhygienic food  or eating dairy products that have been left out of the refrigerator for too long. It also spreads via cooking and eating utensils that haven’t been properly cleaned. 
  • Pregnancy/morning sickness: Vomiting is the most common symptom in pregnant women. Morning sickness usually begins during the first month of pregnancy and ends between weeks 14 and 16, but some women experience it for the entire gestation period. This type of vomiting may be caused by rapid hormonal changes taking place in the body, such as increasing estrogen levels.
  • Motion sickness: Motion sickness is common and may occur when traveling by car, train, airplane and boat. This problem can happen to anyone but tends to happen more frequently to children and pregnant women. This happens when the brain receives conflicting signals from the eyes, inner ear and sensory receptors, causing irritable symptoms leading to vomiting.
  • Indigestion: Indigestion is one of the most common causes of vomiting seen in all age groups. It is a feeling of burning or discomfort in the upper abdomen caused by overeating or eating high-fat foods or spicy foods rather quickly. Individuals may also complain of heartburn
  • Medications: Vomiting is usually a common side effect of many different types of medications, which include antibiotics, over-the-counter medications, antidepressants and sometimes even cancer drugs.
  • Stress and anxiety: A few people develop vomiting as a symptom of excess stress or anxiety. The body produces a higher amount of stress chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol as part of the fight-or-flight response. This triggered response may interfere with the gastrointestinal tract to cause nausea and vomiting.

Below are few more common causes of vomiting

What are the common ways to treat vomiting?

Treatment for vomiting varies depending on the underlying cause

  • Patients may need to drink fluids with electrolytes to stay hydrated. In severe cases, patients may be admitted to a hospital for intravenous fluids.
  • In case of food poisoning, patients may be advised to eat bland crackers, dry toast or white rice to soothe the stomach. Over-the-counter medications such as Pepto-Bismol or Imodium can also help with vomiting due to food poisoning and a stomach bug.
  • Treatment for vomiting caused by motion sickness includes medicines classified as H1 blockers such as Dramamine. Sometimes, carbonated beverages and fresh air might also provide relief.
  • Apart from these measures, patients need sufficient rest and may sometimes be required to not to eat for hours. Such patients may be placed on clear fluids or intravenous fluids. 
  • If the infection causes vomiting, it may go away within three to seven days and patients may be given antibiotics and electrolyte fluids. 
  • In case of indigestion, patients may take antacids and make a few lifestyle changes to reduce vomiting episodes.
  • Practicing deep breathing exercises and calming techniques may help relieve symptoms of stress.
  • Eating a healthy diet containing foods prepared with safe food handling techniques and  exercising regularly  may help relieve the underlying causes of vomiting.

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Reviewed on 9/18/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

GoHealth Urgent Care


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