Throwing up: It seems to be one of those unwavering rites of childhood, right alongside skinning your knees, and asking “Are we there yet?”
But vomiting, nausea, and stomach upsets aren’t just reserved for kids. Adults deal with these issues too, though the causes may sometimes be different. So what makes kids and adults throw up? Can you prevent vomiting? And, how should you care for someone after they’ve been sick?
This Thanksgiving has special meaning for Emmy Award-winning actor, producer, and author Marlo Thomas. It’s the 50th anniversary of her family’s fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, located in Memphis, Tenn.
St. Jude began as the dream of Marlo’s father, the late, great funnyman Danny Thomas, in 1957 and has been going strong ever since. Since his death in 1991, Marlo, along with her sister, Terre, and brother, Tony, has been at the forefront of the center’s fundraising.
There are dozens of conditions that can lead to vomiting or nausea, but there are a few more common causes.
Gastroenteritis: This is what most of us call the stomach flu (though it’s not related to influenza). Gastroenteritis can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites – and often leads to diarrhea and vomiting in adults and kids.
Food allergies and irritations: Although any food can provoke a reaction, several in particular tend to cause most food allergies, including eggs, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, wheat, and fish. Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain can occur within minutes or hours after ingesting the offending food.
Anxiety and stress: Worries about the new school year, tension about the big game, pressures at work -- all kinds of emotional upsets can lead to nausea and vomiting, though this tends to happen more often with adults or older children.
That’s a lot of reasons to throw up. But “across the board the most common cause for vomiting is probably infection -- gastroenteritis,” says Tanya Altmann MD, a California pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers.
And you can come across those contagious gastroenteritis germs just about anywhere, from school to daycare, restaurants to movie theaters. Get gastroenteritis, and you can expect to be sick for about a week. But why exactly do we throw up when we don’t feel well?