Vomiting is rarely painful, but never pleasant. Vomiting, also known scientifically as “emesis” and colloquially as throwing up, retching, heaving, hurling, puking, tossing, or being sick, is the forcible voluntary or involuntary emptying of stomach contents through the mouth or, less often, the nose.
There are different types of vomiting. Some people get the dry heaves, where you retch and feel like vomiting, but nothing comes out of your stomach. The dry heaves are also called nonproductive emesis.
Signs and Symptoms of Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting commonly occur in those with infections ranging from influenza to gastroenteritis. Symptoms that occur with nausea and vomiting include:
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid pulse
- Excessive sweating
- Dry mouth
- Decreased urination
- Chest pain
- Excessive sleepiness
Causes and Risk Factors of Vomiting
Vomiting is an involuntary reflex that empties the stomach forcefully. Some people may also self-induce vomiting due to an eating disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, causes for nausea and vomiting vary widely and can include: (3)
- Early stages of pregnancy
- Medication-induced vomiting
- Intense pain
- Emotional stress (such as fear)
- Gallbladder disease
- Food poisoning
- Infections (such as the “stomach flu”)
- A reaction to certain smells or odors
- Concussion or brain injury
Treatment and Medication Options for Vomiting
Treatment for nausea and vomiting depends on the underlying cause.
Most episodes of vomiting can be treated at home. Self-care measures you can take to treat vomiting include:
- Drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.
- Adhere to a clear liquid diet to rest the stomach.
- Avoid strong odors, including food and cooking smells, perfume, and smoke, that could possibly trigger vomiting.
- When you begin eating solid food again, stick to bland foods that are easily digestible, like cereal, rice, and crackers.
- Avoid spicy and fatty foods.
Prevention of Vomiting
A person with nausea has the sensation that vomiting may occur. Other signs that you are about to vomit include gagging, retching, choking, involuntary stomach reflexes, the mouth filling with saliva (to protect the teeth from stomach acid), and the need to move or bend over.