Information for Patients
Nausea and Vomiting
What are nausea and vomiting?
Nausea is when you feel sick to your stomach, as if you are going to throw up. Vomiting is when you throw up.
What causes nausea and vomiting?
Nausea and vomiting can be symptoms of many different conditions, including
- Morning sickness during pregnancy
- Gastroenteritis (infection of your intestines) and other infections
- Motion sickness
- Food poisoning
- Medicines, including those for cancer chemotherapy
- GERD (reflux) and ulcers
- Intestinal obstruction
When should I see a health care provider for nausea and vomiting?
Nausea and vomiting are common. They are usually not serious. However, you should contact your health care provider immediately if you have
- A reason to think that your vomiting is from poisoning
- Vomited for longer than 24 hours
- Blood in the vomit
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe headache and stiff neck
- Signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, infrequent urination or dark urine
How is the cause of nausea and vomiting diagnosed?
Your health care provider will take your medical history, ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. The provider will look for signs of dehydration. You may have some tests, including blood and urine tests. Women may also have a pregnancy test.
What are the treatments for nausea and vomiting?
Treatments for nausea and vomiting depend on the cause. You may get treatment for the underlying problem. There are some medicines that can treatment nausea and vomiting. For severe cases of vomiting, you may need extra fluids through an IV (intravenous).
There are things that you can do to feel better:
- Get enough fluids, to avoid dehydration. If you are having trouble keeping liquids down, drink small amounts of clear liquids often.
- Eat bland foods; stay away from spicy, fatty, or salty foods
- Eat smaller meals more often
- Avoid strong smells, since they can sometimes trigger nausea and vomiting
- If you are pregnant and have morning sickness, eat crackers before you get out of bed in the morning