Causes of vomiting
Several disorders of the digestive system, nervous system, and balance-related issues can make you throw up. Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections can also cause nausea and vomiting. Vomiting often rids the body of excessive stomach acid or other harmful substances you've consumed. Repeated vomiting can cause dehydration. Vomiting that goes on for days can also reduce your nutritional intake. The fastest way to regain strength after vomiting is to rest your stomach while replacing the water and nutrients lost.
Most vomiting lasts only a day or two. The common causes of vomiting are:
Usually, gastroenteritis is a viral infection of the digestive system. You may also have diarrhea.
Excessive acid in the stomach can irritate the lining and cause vomiting. Spicy food, fried foods, or alcohol are the usual causes. Acidity also happens in response to stress, fatigue, poor sleep, etc.
Vomiting that lasts for days to weeks could be caused by nervous system disorders, migraine, an inner ear condition, pregnancy, kidney infections or stones, certain medicines, and gall bladder inflammation.
What is the fastest way to recover from vomiting?
Most often, an upset stomach causes vomiting. This may be because of a stomach bug, alcohol, or spicy food. Your stomach tries to remove the harmful substances by vomiting.
It's best to give your stomach some rest. Don't eat for a couple of hours, and have only sips of plain water or bland liquids. When your stomach no longer holds whatever it found irritating, it will return to its job of digesting your food and drink.
Once your stomach is back to normal, you should help your body recover. Drink lots of water and other liquids to replenish the shortfall created by the vomiting. Sweet juices and oral rehydration fluid provide both energy and water. Your body also loses salt while vomiting, so salty snacks can help you recover. For a day or two, eat and drink small amounts frequently to let your stomach recover.
Dangers of dehydration
The chief danger of vomiting is dehydration. If you throw up often, you will keep losing water and salts. Vomiting also prevents you from eating and drinking.
Dehydration can be deadly if severe. If you vomit a lot, watch for these signs of early-stage dehydration:
At this time, you should drink lots of water and other liquids. If you can't drink or keep throwing up, you should talk to your physician. Without treatment, you may progress to severe dehydration, which causes lethargy, sunken eyes, dry tongue, breathing difficulty, unconsciousness, and low blood pressure. This is a dangerous condition and can be fatal.
Severe dehydration needs hospitalization. Your physician will prescribe intravenous fluids and medicines to treat it.
The treatment of vomiting
Resting your stomach usually works, but sometimes vomiting persists. You might want to try over-the-counter (OTC) remedies.
Some drugs in this class are used to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting. The familiar ones are dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) and meclizine hydrochloride (Dramamine Less Drowsy). These drugs work best to prevent motion sickness.
If resting your stomach and using OTC remedies don't stop the vomiting, you should talk to your physician. They may prescribe medicines to stop the vomiting (anti-emetics). Some commonly-used ones are:
- Metoclopramide (Reglan)
- Prochlorperazine (Phenergan) and related drugs like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and dimenhydrinate (Dramamine).
- Ondansetron (Zofran) and related drugs like granisetron (Kytril) and dolasetron (Anzamet).
These medicines are not over-the-counter products. They have significant adverse effects and can be dangerous in some situations. You should only take them when your physician prescribes them.
You shouldn't combine your doctor's prescription with OTC medicines. Let your doctor know what OTC medicines you've taken so that they can guard against drug interactions.
Recovery from vomiting
After your vomiting stops, you may feel weak and lethargic. This is quite common and happens because you haven't eaten in a while. Vomiting may also have left you dehydrated. You also lose electrolytes and salts when vomiting.
Rehydration is urgent, especially if you have any signs of dehydration. As soon as your vomiting has stopped, you should start sipping plain water. Once you can keep that down, start rehydration therapy with oral rehydration solution (ORS).
ORS is a carefully formulated mixture. It provides water, sodium, potassium, chloride, and glucose to help you recover quickly from vomiting. If you are dehydrated, you should take about 75 milliliters (2½ ounces) of ORS per kilogram weight in 4 hours. If your weight is 60 kilograms, you'll need 150 ounces. If you're thirsty and can drink more, you should.
You should avoid most sugary drinks if you have diarrhea, but ORS is recommended. The combination of glucose and sodium in the right ratio is absorbed well. Do not drink sodas, sports drinks, or energy drinks if you have diarrhea. The high sugar content in these liquids can worsen diarrhea.
Once your vomiting is under control, you should eat bland food in small amounts every few hours. Rice, bananas, applesauce, cereals, crackers, and toast are safe foods. You should go light on spices for a few days. Avoid fried food, tobacco, and alcohol.
Vomiting is a common disorder. Usually, you can stop the vomiting by resting your stomach for a while. But vomiting leaves you drained out and lacking energy. You need water, salts, and energy to get back to your usual, vigorous self. Recovery from vomiting needs rehydration therapy followed by a careful diet that provides energy without irritating your stomach.
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American Academy of Family Physicians: "Antiemetic Medicines: OTC Relief for Nausea and Vomiting."
American Academy of Pediatrics: "Drinks to Prevent Dehydration in a Vomiting Child."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Food Poisoning Symptoms," "Rehydration Therapy."
Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: "Nausea and Vomiting in 2021: A Comprehensive Update."
National Health Service: "Vomiting in adults."
University of Rochester Medical Center: "What You Need to Know About Vomiting."
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