Nausea and Vomiting

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

woman with abdominal pain
Child with nausea and vomiting

Nausea and Vomiting Symptoms

Other signs and symptoms that may be associated with nausea and vomiting include the following:

  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • A general feeling of being sick to one's stomach

Some people may experience the following related nausea and vomiting symptoms and signs:

  • Stomach Cramps
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea

Nausea and vomiting facts

  • Nausea and vomiting are symptoms of a disease or condition. The underlying cause of the illness causing nausea and vomiting should be identified and treated.
  • Nausea and vomiting symptom control is important both for comfort's sake and to prevent dehydration.
  • Dehydration can worsen nausea and vomiting.
  • Medication may be available to control symptoms of nausea and vomiting.

Introduction to nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are symptoms of an underlying illness and not a specific disease. Nausea is the sensation that the stomach wants to empty itself, while vomiting (emesis) or throwing up, is the act of forcible emptying of the stomach. The term "dry heaves" refers to an episode of vomiting where there is no food in the stomach to vomit, and only clear secretions are vomited.

Vomiting is a violent act in which the stomach almost turns itself inside out - forcing itself into the lower portion of the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) during a vomiting episode, expelling food and secretions.

What causes nausea or vomiting?

There are numerous causes of nausea and vomiting. These symptoms may be due to the following:

  • Acute gastritis (direct irritation of the stomach lining)
  • Central causes in which signals from the brain cause nausea and vomiting
  • Other illnesses not due to stomach problems
  • Medications and medical treatments
  • Mechanical obstruction of the bowel
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/22/2016
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