Digestive Diseases: Nausea and Vomiting (cont.)

You should seek immediate medical care if any of the following situations occur with vomiting:

  • There is blood in the vomit (bright red or "coffee grounds" in appearance)
  • Severe headache or stiff neck
  • Lethargy, confusion or a decreased alertness
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing or pulse

How is vomiting treated?

Treatment for vomiting (regardless of age or cause) includes:

  • Drinking gradually larger amounts of clear liquids
  • Avoiding solid food until the vomiting episode has passed
  • Temporarily discontinuing all oral medications (which can irritate the stomach and make vomiting worse). But, do not discontinue any medication before checking with your doctor first.
  • If vomiting and diarrhea last more than 24 hours, an oral rehydrating solution such as Pedialyte should be used to prevent and treat dehydration.
  • Pregnant women experiencing morning sickness can eat some crackers before getting out of bed or eat a high protein snack before going to bed (lean meat or cheese).
  • Vomiting associated with cancer treatments can often be treated with another type of drug therapy. There are also prescription and nonprescription drugs that can be used to control vomiting associated with pregnancy, motion sickness and some forms of dizziness. However, consult with your doctor before using these treatments.

How can I prevent nausea?

  • Eat small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals
  • Eat slowly
  • Avoid hard-to-digest foods
  • Consume foods that are cold or room temperature to avoid nausea from the smell of hot or warm foods
  • Rest after eating with your head elevated about 12 inches above your feet
  • Drink liquids between meals instead of during meals and drink at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration (unless fluid restricted for another medical condition).
  • Try to eat when you feel less nauseated

How do I prevent vomiting once I feel nauseated?

When you begin to feel nauseated, you may be able to prevent vomiting by:
  • Drink small amounts of clear, sweetened liquids such as soda or fruit juices (except orange and grapefruit juices because these are too acidic).
  • Rest either in a sitting position or in a propped lying position. Activity may worsen nausea and may lead to vomiting.

For children:

  • To treat motion sickness in a car, seat your child so he or she faces the front windshield (watching fast movement out the side windows can make the nausea worse).
  • Don't let your kids eat and play at the same time.

Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Department of Gastroenterology.

Reviewed on March 01, 2006

Edited by Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD, on March 01, 2006.

Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2004


Last Editorial Review: 4/29/2008



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