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Is this your symptom?

  • Vomiting

Some Basics...

  • Vomiting is the forceful throwing up of the stomach's contents through the mouth. Stomach upset is often felt before each bout of vomiting.
  • It can be caused by many types of sickness. Vomiting that occurs with loose stools can be from stomach flu or food poisoning.
  • Staying well-hydrated is the key for adults with vomiting. An adult who feels well and is not thirsty or dizzy is not dehydrated. People with more than mild dehydration will need medical care.


  • Appendicitis
  • Bowel Obstruction
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA): this can occur in people with diabetes who take insulin. Vomiting can be a warning sign. A person with vomiting and diabetes should talk with their doctor right away or go to the hospital.
  • Food Allergy
  • Food Poisoning: this is caused by eating tainted food. Harmful germs can grow in some foods. Eating foods with these germs will make a person sick. Vomiting, loose stools, and stomach pain are the main symptoms. These often start 2-6 hours after eating the food. Often this can be treated at home.
  • Headaches: vomiting happens to some people with migraine and cluster headaches.
  • Hepatitis: this is when the liver becomes inflamed. It is often caused by a virus. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and yellow eyes.
  • Kidney Stone Attack: the main symptoms are flank pain, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Medicines: this is the most common cause of vomiting in adults. It should be thought about as a cause in older people. Some drugs that cause this are digoxin, narcotics, erythromycin, and cancer drugs.
  • Motion Sickness: some people feel sick when they are in a car, a boat, or airplane. Signs of motion sickness include dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. These will stop when the motion stops.
  • Neurologic Disease: brain swelling or pressure can make people vomit. Problems that can cause this are meningitis, encephalitis, Reye's syndrome, blocked V-P shunt, and head trauma.
  • Response to Certain Smells
  • Stomach Flu: this is a very common cause of vomiting in adults. It is most often caused by a virus. Usually stomach flu can be treated at home.
  • Vomiting after Surgery
  • Vomiting in First Trimester of Pregnancy: this is called morning sickness. It happens to many women in the first months of pregnancy. It most often is not serious.

When to Call for Vomiting

Call 911 Now

  • Very weak (can't stand)
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Severe vomiting (6 or more times / day)
  • You feel dehydrated (dizzy, dry mouth, very thirsty)
  • You are taking digoxin (Lanoxin), lithium, theophylline, or phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • Fever over 103° F (39.4° C)
  • Fever over 100.4° F (38.0° C) and more than 60 years old
  • Fever and have diabetes
  • Fever and have a weak immune system (such as HIV, cancer chemo, long-term steroids, splenectomy, transplant)
  • Fever and are bedridden (nursing home patient, stroke, chronic illness, or recovering from surgery)
  • Severe headache
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Fever lasts more than 3 days
  • Vomiting lasts more than 48 hours
  • Vomiting a prescribed drug or just started on a new medication
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Vomiting off and on for weeks or months (are frequent, come and go)
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Mild vomiting and it might be stomach flu

Care Advice for Mild Vomiting

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Vomiting can be caused by many types of illnesses.
    • Adults with vomiting need to stay hydrated. Try to not lose more fluids than you take in. If you don't replace lost fluids, you may get dehydrated. People with more than mild dehydration will need medical care.
    • You can treat mild vomiting at home.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. For Nonstop Vomiting, Try Sleeping:
    • Try to go to sleep. Sleep often empties the stomach and may make you feel better.
    • When you wake up, start drinking liquids. Start with water.
  3. Clear Liquids: Try to sip small amounts (1 tablespoon; 15 mL) of liquid every 5 minutes. Do this for 8 hours. This works better than drinking a lot of liquid all at one time.
    • Sip water or a ½ strength sport drink like Gatorade or Powerade.
    • Other choices are ½ strength flat lemon-lime soda or ginger ale. Use half water and half soda. Let the bubbles in the soda go flat.
    • After 4 hours without vomiting, drink larger amounts.
  4. Solid Food:
    • You may start to eat bland foods after 8 hours without vomiting. Start with saltine crackers, white bread, rice, mashed potatoes, cereal, or applesauce.
    • After 48 hours, you may go back to a normal diet.
  5. Avoid Medicines:
    • Stop taking all non-prescription drugs for 24 hours. They may make the vomiting worse.
    • Call your doctor if you throw up a prescription drug.
  6. How It Is Spread: Return to normal activities after the vomiting and fever stop.
  7. What to Expect: Vomiting from stomach flu most often stops in 12-48 hours. If you also have diarrhea, it will most often last for a few days.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Vomiting lasts more than 48 hours
    • You are dehydrated (dizzy, dry mouth, very thirsty)
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Last Reviewed: 9/21/2019 1:00:27 AM
Last Updated: 3/14/2019 1:00:29 AM

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