Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms stemming from various underlying causes, ranging from stomach-related issues to neurological and systemic conditions. This article provides an overview of the diverse causes, diagnosis, and treatment options associated with these symptoms.

Causes of Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting can result from a myriad of factors, including acute gastritis, stomach problems, medications, and mechanical bowel obstruction. These symptoms are indicative of an underlying illness rather than a specific disease. Nausea refers to the feeling of wanting to empty the stomach, while vomiting involves the forceful expulsion of stomach contents.

Common Causes

  • Gastrointestinal Causes
  1. Acute gastritis: Infections, such as noroviruses and bacteria like H. pylori, can irritate the stomach lining.
  2. Stomach flu (gastroenteritis): Vomiting and diarrhea occur together due to viral infections.
  3. Food poisoning: Toxins from bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus or other contaminants lead to significant vomiting.
  4. Other irritants: Alcohol, smoking, NSAIDs, and peptic ulcer disease can contribute to nausea and vomiting.
  5. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Acid reflux into the esophagus can result in these symptoms.
  • Pregnancy-Related Causes
  1. Morning sickness: Hormonal changes during pregnancy commonly lead to moderate symptoms.
  2. Hyperemesis gravidarum: Severe vomiting, dehydration, and weight loss may occur in rare cases.
  • Neurological Causes
  1. Headache: Migraines often accompany nausea and vomiting.
  2. Inner ear issues: Motion sickness, labyrinthitis, and Meniere’s disease can contribute.
  3. Increased intracranial pressure: Trauma, infections, tumors, or other injuries affecting the head may induce symptoms.
  • Diabetes, Diseases, and Eating Disorders
  1. Gastroparesis: Diabetes-related failure of stomach emptying.
  2. Various diseases: Hepatitis, gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, Crohn’s disease, and kidney diseases can cause these symptoms.
  3. Eating disorders: Bulimia involves self-induced vomiting.
  • Drug Side Effects
  1. Medications: Many drugs, including painkillers, anti-inflammatories, steroids, and antibiotics, list nausea and vomiting as common side effects.
  2. Radiation and chemotherapy: Cancer treatments may induce these symptoms.


Diagnosing the cause of nausea and vomiting involves a comprehensive medical history, physical examination, and, if necessary, laboratory tests and imaging. Tests may include blood tests, X-rays, and urinalysis to assess the patient’s stability and hydration status.

Nausea and Vomiting Treatment

Treatment aims to address the underlying cause while managing symptoms. Intravenous fluids may be administered to break the cycle of dehydration and nausea. Various antiemetic medications, such as promethazine, prochlorperazine, and ondansetron, can be prescribed depending on the patient’s condition.

Natural Remedies for Nausea and Vomiting

Resting the stomach and avoiding dehydration are crucial. Clear fluids like water, sports drinks, broths, popsicles, and Jell-O are recommended for the first 24 hours. Milk products should be avoided initially, and as the patient improves, a gradual reintroduction of bland foods, such as the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast), is suggested.

When to Seek Medical Care

Medical attention is advised if symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, diagnosis is uncertain, concerns about dehydration arise, or if additional symptoms like pain, fever, vomiting blood, or black, tarry bowel movements occur. Infants and children, being more vulnerable to dehydration, should prompt immediate medical care if there’s any doubt about their ability to tolerate fluids.

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