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Nausea and vomiting Symptoms Causes Treatment Preventions & More All you need to know

Nausea and vomiting are not the proper diseases but the outcome of many diseases. These are the conditions that develop in certain disease conditions like stomach issues, concussion, or pregnancy.

Vomiting is the reflex in which contents of the stomach are propelled outside through the mouth.  It can be called throwing out while nausea is the condition in which a sick person feels that he is going to vomit but doesn’t vomit.

Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms that are seen in many diseases. These conditions may arise in lots of food poisoning, stomach flu, motion sickness, brain injury or CNS disorders, overeating, appendicitis, heat stress, and pregnancy.

Nausea and vomiting Symptoms Causes Treatment Preventions

What is the difference between vomiting and nausea?

Nausea is a condition that occurs due to stomach uneasiness, liver problems, and intestinal infection usually. in it, a person feels the urge to vomit but can’t vomit and the condition of uneasiness persists in which a person’s upper chest feels the pressure of urge of vomiting.

Vomiting is the anti-peristaltic movement of the esophagus in which ingested food contents of the stomach are propelled outside of the mouth. Vomiting is an involuntary action that is not under the control of the patient.

Why does vomiting occur?

There are four general causes of vomiting that triggers it.

  • Vestibular
  • Gastric stasis
  • CTZ
  • Vomiting center paralysis.

What are the symptoms of nausea and vomiting?

 Nausea and vomiting may appear in several conditions. Different symptoms can appear according to the severity of the underlying reason.

  • Abdominal pain- is often combined with nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting condition often appear as a result of the stomach or intestinal abnormalities which is accompanied by abdominal pain and discomfort.
  • Diarrhea- can be experienced along with nausea and vomiting.
  • Fever- because of the stress of pathological state.
  • Decreased urination – occurs because a lot of water is already being lost in the vomiting.
  • Severe headache and lethargy.
  • Dry mouth- occurs because of dehydration caused by water loss through vomiting.
  • Excessive sweating- in persisting conditions.
  • Fainting- in case of excessive dehydration.
  • Rapid pulse, increased heart rate, and rapid breathing.
  • Vertigo- can also be noted in certain conditions in which the environment looks like spinning.
  • Lightheadedness- a condition in which blood is not properly supplied to the brain.

What are the types of vomiting?

Different types of vomiting can be seen in different conditions. Following types of vomiting may occur.

Types based on duration:

Acute: Occurs and lasts for 1-2 weeks. Can be caused by obstruction, post-op, toxicities, metabolic infections, and neurological signs.

Chronic: It lasts for more than a month. Reasons could be motility disorder, partial obstruction, chronic neurological signs, and pregnancy.

Other types of vomiting are listed below.

Projectile vomiting:

In this type of vomiting, contents of the stomach are propelled outside through the mouth with great force. The contents are expelled out with a pressure that some contents may come out through the nose.

Posseting vomiting:

It is the type of vomiting in which a small amount of content comes out through the mouth with mild pressure. This is not true vomiting but may lead to vomiting.

Reflux Vomiting:

This is more common in infants or babies in which the esophageal sphincter accidentally opens which leads to vomiting of ingested food. This doesn’t occur because of any disease instead it’s a timely condition that ends when the child grows up.

Feculent vomiting:

This is a rare type of vomiting in which the intestine gets blocked and the digested contents which are called fecal matter can be vomited through the mouth. However, this is quite a rare condition.  

What are the causes of nausea and vomiting?

Causes of nausea and vomiting can be grouped into 2 classes. Some appear in normal condition while others may be the reason for any severe or complicated condition.

General Causes of Vomiting and Nausea:

  • Minor gastric or intestinal infection.
  • Gastro-esophageal reflux
  • Traveling in a vehicle for a long time.
  • Early-stage pregnancy in females.

Specific Causes of vomiting:

Other disease conditions may also include vomiting. Some such conditions are below.

GIT associated causes:

  • Hepatitis and jaundice that is caused by the Hepatitis A virus that leads to vomiting and nausea condition.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease- GERD may also lead to nausea and vomiting in affected persons.
  • Allergic reactions to milk especially in children are also the cause of vomiting.
  • Cholecystitis or inflammation of the gall bladder may also lead to the vomiting condition.
  • Gastroparesis condition in diabetic person can also lead to vomiting because in this condition stomach emptying time is slowed down which causes the backward reflex towards the esophagus.
  • Pyloric stenosis in babies causes projectile vomiting.
  • Intestinal blockage and appendicitis
  • Gastric ulcers or intestinal inflammation in which digestion and absorption are compromised.
  • Food poisoning can be caused by ingesting bacterially contaminated food.
  • Overeating

Brain associated Causes:

  • Cerebral hemorrhages and benign tumors of the brain may also lead to vomiting.
  • Labyrinthitis may also cause vomiting because it produces vertigo in patients.
  • Encephalitis and meningitis.
  • Brain injury or concussions in which any part of the brain is injured.

Disturbances in the Metabolism:

  • Some metabolic disturbances like adrenal insufficiency, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, uremia, and hypercalcemia can lead to stomach irritation which leads to vomiting.

Causes by the Drug reactions:

  • Some opioid pain killers and antibiotics also have emetic effects in patients.
  • Entheogens, alcohol, and any drug that blocks the reuptake of serotonin can lead to vomiting.

Behavioral Causes:

  • Emotional stress, fear, and Intensive pain can cause nausea.
  • Bulimia disorder especially in females in which they eat according to the desire and then intentionally induce vomiting to avoid getting obese.
  • Purging disorder and anorexia nervosa also lead to nausea condition.
  • Long-term anxiety and depression may also alter the digestion of the affected person which may concurrently experience nausea and vomiting.

Other Causes:

  • Radiotherapy and chemotherapy may also cause vomiting and nausea in certain patients after treatment.
  • Post-operative vomiting and nausea can also be seen in some patients.
  • Extreme smells and the pungent odor of any chemical or place can induce vomiting in some patients. 
  • Some people feel nausea for a long time and they induce vomiting so that they can feel better afterward.

What are the risk factors that may lead to vomiting and nausea?

Following risk factors may lead to nausea and vomiting.

Age: vomiting may be common in children as they feed and may experience posseting vomiting.

Chemotherapy or treatment: The risk of nausea and vomiting depends upon the type of chemotherapy. There may be a minimal to high risk of vomiting based on the therapy.  Some emetogenic drugs can induce vomiting. Drugs like cisplatin, carmustine, Docetaxel, paclitaxel, and dacarbazine have emetogenic effects.

Alcohol Consumption: A person who has a history of alcohol consumption may have a higher risk of getting nausea and vomiting.

Pregnancy: In females, during the first few months there are high chances of nausea and vomiting during conception.

Anxiety and depression: A person having a history of long-term anxiety and depression has higher chances of nausea and vomiting.

Being sensitive to odors: Some people have a very strong impulsive response to odors like those of drugs, rotten fruits or, garbage. Such a person may get vomit on triggering odor.

What are the complications associated with nausea and vomiting?

Most of the conditions of vomiting and nausea are self-limiting and treated on their own. Some conditions can prolong and become the cause of chronic vomiting.

Dehydration:

If vomiting persists for long-time dehydration may occur. Every time the person vomits some amount of water is lost. If the condition prolongs it can cause severe dehydration in affected persons.

Malnutrition:

Feeding and nourishment of the person are compromised in nausea and vomiting conditions. Most of the persons can’t eat or drink properly. Anorexia develops which leads to malnutrition.

In vomiting, intestine functioning and gastric digestion are also affected. This caused indigestion issues and nutrients are lost which may lead to malnutrition.

Weakness and emaciation:

 If the condition of vomiting prolongs, it will cause emaciation and nutrient loss. Dehydration and undernourishment lead to severe emaciation and weight loss in patients.

 Electrolyte imbalance:

In vomiting, some important electrolytes like H+, K+, Mg+2, and Chloride ions are lost through vomiting. This can lead to electrolyte imbalance which further complicates digestion.

Decaying of teeth enamel:

If vomiting persists long-term, it may decay the enamel covering of the teeth. Acids from the stomach may damage the outer covering of the teeth called enamel is decayed.

When to see the doctor in case of nausea and vomiting?

 If the frequency or duration of vomiting condition prolongs then must consult a doctor.

  • Choking spells and coughing along with vomiting.
  • Blood in the vomit or greenish-yellow bile in the vomit is seen.
  • Heartburn and continued nausea.
  • Emaciation or weakness because of dehydration caused by fluid loss.
  • Continued vomiting after anything you eat.
  • Vomiting with a forceful thrust.
  • Heartburn and chest pressure.

How vomiting and nausea can be diagnosed accurately?

First and foremost, a major step in the diagnosis of vomiting or nausea is history taking.

History taking: By taking the history of feeding, hygiene, possible infection, medication, and other possible reasons that may lead to vomiting or nausea.

After proper clinical checkups and examination of the patient, the underlying reason and type of vomiting can be diagnosed.

  • Blood and urine testing to confirm the infection that is being the reason for vomiting.
  • By dry skins, cracked lips, and dehydration status of the skin it can be diagnosed.
  • Dark color urine may suggest water loss through vomiting.
  • Dizziness, fatigue, weakness, and headache can be coordinated.

Ultrasonography: This can be used to diagnose pancreatitis, gastritis, gall stones, liver disorders, and appendicitis. Which suggests the underlying reason for vomiting or nausea.

CT-Scan: this can be used to check meningitis, encephalitis, or any other condition which may trigger vomiting.

How can you treat Vomiting and Nausea?

 Many mild cases are self-limiting however in case of prolonged vomiting following drugs can be used to treat vomiting.

  • Ondansetron (onset) is used to treat vomiting in adults. However, in children, ondansetron syrup can be given orally. It is a 5HT-3 receptor antagonist.
  • Dexamethasone (Decadron) can be used IV to stop vomiting and nausea.
  • Antihistaminic drugs like cyclizine (Marzine), promethazine (Avomine) and can be used.
  • Prochlorperazine and perphenazine are effective in vomiting and nausea condition.
  • Droperidol shows good results when used IV or IM.
  • In extreme cases when no other drug is working. Peri-norm with Phenergan can be used.

What home remedies can be carried out to treat vomiting?

Following tips and remedies can be used at home to stop vomiting and nausea.

Deep breathing:

If vomiting prolongs, try deep breathing through open mouth and nostrils. The abdomen expands as you deeply breathe. This would you during vomiting.

Fluid Therapy:

Some fluids can be taken which has efficient results in stopping vomit and nausea. Ginger ale, lemonade, mint tea, and simple water can help in relieving extreme nausea.

Fennel and cloves:

These are traditional remedies to treat vomiting at home. Fennel seeds have relaxing effects on the digestive tract while cloves eugenol compound in it which has antibacterial effects. Thus, can help to treat vomiting.    

What are the preventive measures that should be taken to avoid Vomiting and nausea?

Following preventive measures can be taken to avoid the condition of vomiting and nausea.

  • Quit Alcohol usage: Alcohol usage for a long term may lead to vomiting and nausea in the latter stage of life. Do not use alcohol this is the root cause of nausea and vomiting.
  • Drink sufficient water: it is a preventive measure that keeps the GIT in its normal state. Drinking water and ORS (oral rehydration solution) regularly may reduce the vomiting and nausea to minimal levels.
  • Avoid depression and stress: Follow the quote, “eat, drink, and be merry”. Don’t take excessive stress and depression of anything, stay relax and light.
  • Don’t do overeating: Avoid eating to your gut-fill instead eat smaller meals at frequent intervals and consume sufficient water to keep your body hydrated.
  • Inhalation of lemon oil through the nose helps to relieve nausea and vomiting which are related to pregnancy in women.
  • Dry crackers for examples saltines can be used to alleviate morning sickness-related vomiting and nausea.
Abdur Rashid
Medically Reviewed By Abdur Rashid
MSC Public Health, MCSP, MHCPC
BSC (Hon) Physiotherapy
Consultant Neuro-spinal & Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist

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