Although nausea and vomiting can make you feel miserable, it's important to remember that these are not diseases, but rather symptoms of many illnesses.
Nausea is a feeling of uneasiness in the stomach often tied to an urge to vomit. Nausea doesn't always lead to vomiting, however. Vomiting is the emptying of the contents of the stomach through the mouth.
These are some of the more common causes of nausea and vomiting:
Gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the digestive tract most often caused by a viral or bacterial infection
Medications or medical treatments, such as chemotherapy
Hormonal changes, such as those that lead to morning sickness during pregnancy
Food poisoning or food intolerance
Poisons, toxins or chemicals in the blood, such as alcohol
Stress and excitement in children ages 2 to 6
These are less common causes:
Obstruction of the bowel
Here are ideas on how to ease nausea:
Drink clear or ice-cold beverages.
Drink beverages slowly.
Eat saltine crackers, plain bread, and other bland foods.
Avoid foods that are fried or sweet.
Eat smaller meals.
Wait a while after eating before exercising or doing other vigorous activity.
Don't brush your teeth immediately after a meal.
If these suggestions don't ease your nausea, talk to your health care provider.
Children become dehydrated more quickly than adults do. If your child is vomiting, ask your health care provider how to help your youngster feel better.
Adults may want to try these tips:
Take a break from solid food, even if you feel like eating.
Stay hydrated by sucking on ice chips or frozen fruit pops, and drinking sips of water, weak tea, clear soft drinks without carbonation, noncaffeinated sports drinks, or broth. Sugary drinks may calm the stomach better than other liquids.
Temporarily stop taking oral medications because these can make vomiting worse.
Slowly add bland foods. If you've been able to drink some fluids and haven't thrown up for 6 to 8 hours, try eating small amounts of foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce, unbuttered toast, dry crackers, or dry cereal.
Once you're back on solid food, eat small meals every few hours. This helps your stomach digest food slowly.
Avoid strong odors, such as tobacco smoke, perfumes, or cooking smells.
Avoid dairy products, tobacco, and alcohol. They may irritate your stomach.
Get plenty of rest.
Vomiting that is caused by drug therapy, surgery or radiation therapy may be treated by taking a different medication. Medications are also available to treat vomiting in pregnancy and other conditions. Talk to your health care provider about what's best for you.
See your health care provider if your vomiting doesn't ease with self-care within 24 hours, or if you become dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, and dizziness, or lightheadedness.
See your health care provider immediately if the following signs or symptoms occur:
Blood in the vomit
Severe headache or stiff neck
Confusion or decreased alertness
Severe abdominal pain
Vomiting with fever above 101 degrees Fahreinheit (38 degrees Celsius)
Vomiting and diarrhea are both present
Rapid breathing or pulse
These are reasons to take a child younger than 6 to the doctor:
Vomiting lasts more than a few hours
Diarrhea also occurs
Your child becomes dehydrated
Your child has a fever above 100°F (37.8°C)
Your child hasn't urinated for 6 hours
These are reasons to take a child older than 6 to the doctor:
Vomiting lasts one day
Diarrhea and vomiting last more than 24 hours
Your child has a fever above 101°F (38°C)