Nausea And Vomiting – How To Treat Unsettled Stomach
Almost all of us have had thrown out stomach contents at least once in a lifetime. Nausea and vomiting are symptoms that may occur voluntarily or involuntarily, against our wish depending on the underlying cause. Sometimes if not treated on time, vomiting can become a medical emergency. Scroll down to know everything on nausea and vomiting.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea in simple words can be termed as a precursor to vomiting. It is the uneasiness of the stomach that is often experienced before vomiting. On the other hand, vomiting is the forceful emptying or expelling stomach contents through mouth. Vomiting can be a one-time event which means something is not settling right in the stomach.
If a person experience repeated vomiting, it can be due to some underlying medical condition. This may lead to dehydration and in some cases, may even prove deadly if left untreated.
What causes nausea and vomiting?
Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, they are symptoms or results of some condition or event which is making these symptoms appear. For example, eating too much food or drinking excessive amount of alcohol can cause a person to throw up the stomach contents.
Other common reasons of nausea and vomiting include:
- Motion sickness
- Food poisoning
- Bacterial or viral infections such as in case of stomach flu
- Medication induced vomiting
- Emotional stress
- Intense pain
- Reaction to certain odour or smell
- Brain injury
- Heart attack
- Brain tumor
- Eating disorder such as bulimia
- Crohn’s disease
Nausea and vomiting in pregnant women and children
Nausea and vomiting are classic signs of pregnancy, especially in the early stages. Nausea occurs in about 50-90 percent of cases while vomiting happens in 25-55 percent cases. Vomiting can also differ according to age. Children can vomit when they are affected from viral infection, milk allergy and high fever.
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Vomiting - Does colour and contents indicate something serious?
It might sound gross and unacceptable, but the contents and consistency of vomiting can give you a lot of information. It may also help your doctor to properly diagnose the condition. Check for these things before you flush out those unwanted contents:
Recently eaten food - Most cases of vomiting appears like whatever you ate last time. If you vomited a few times and the contents seem to be food, it could be a case of either food poisoning or stomach virus or may be something completely different such as in case of pregnancy.
Bright green – Vomit that looks like dark green or greenish-brown in colour is typically considered as bile. Bile is a fluid that aids digestion. In children, this could indicate a serious disorder such as bowel obstruction. The green fluid can also appear when a person has vomited so much so that there is nothing left in his stomach. This may also indicate dehydration.
Bright red – If a person is vomiting bright red, it is perhaps an indication of blood. Red coloured vomiting can occur due to several reasons such as nose bleeding or eating or drinking something red. If both of this conditions are not there, make sure you call the doctor immediately as it could be a serious issue.
Brownish black – Vomiting that looks like colour of coffee grounds may be blood but not fresh and may have stayed long in the gastrointestinal tract. It may not be a sign of internal bleeding but serious enough that requires emergency medical intervention. Black vomiting may also indicate yellow fever.
When to call the doctor?
You must check with the doctor without delay if you are experiencing:
- Vomiting that doesn’t stop in a day
- Food poisoning
- Severe pain in the abdomen
- Severe headache with stiff neck
- Vomiting accompanied by diarrhea
- Vomiting accompanied by high fever (101 degrees)
- Not urinated for 6 hours or more
- Rapid breathing
Blood in vomiting can scare the daylights out of you. It could indicate any of the serious conditions including stomach cancer, ruptured blood vessels or stomach ulcers.
Complications of vomiting
Even if the vomiting doesn’t demand medical emergency, if the condition is left untreated, you could face a range of complications including:
- Decreased urination
- Dark urine
The complications can be serious in infants and children as they have smaller body mass, hence having less fluid to sustain themselves. Parents should consult with a pediatrician in case their children show symptoms of dehydration.
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Treatment of nausea and vomiting
The treatment will depend on the underlying cause. The treatment might not be necessary if vomiting occurs once in a while. However, keeping the body hydrated is vital even if vomiting occurs only once. Typically, following recommendations are made in case of vomiting:
There are over the counter medication available for treating vomiting. Dramamine and meclizine are antihistamine or anti-allergic medicines commonly recommended for motion sickness. Pepto-bismal (antacid) is also recommended in case of upset stomach and getting relief from diarrhea.
In most of the cases, self-care is the best way to treat nausea and vomiting. You can adopt following measures as you wait the appointment with your doctor:
- Have clear liquids containing electrolytes. Small frequent liquid intake can restore the loss of essential nutrients.
- Avoid solid food as it can upset stomach and increase the chances of throwing up.
- Have non greasy foods
- Taking ginger products can also help
- Try eating small frequent meals throughout the day
How can we prevent nausea and vomiting?
Triggers for vomiting can vary from person to person. Some of the common prevention ways are mentioned below:
- Avoid eating too much food
- Avoid consuming too much alcohol
- Avoid hot or spicy foods
- Don’t exercise after meals
- Get proper sleep
- Avoid stress
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent episodes of nausea and vomiting. However, it might not be possible to prevent underlying conditions. Hence, call your doctor immediately if you experience episodes of vomiting accompanied by other symptoms.