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Nausea and Vomiting

When to Call the Doctor About Nausea and Vomiting

Call a doctor about nausea and vomiting:

  • If the nausea lasts for more than a few days or if there is a possibility of being pregnant.
  • If home treatment is not working, dehydration is present, or a known injury has occurred (such as head injury or infection) that may be causing the vomiting.
  • Adults should consult a doctor if vomiting occurs for more than one day, diarrhea and vomiting last more than 24 hours, or there are signs of moderate dehydration.
  • Take an infant or child under six years to the doctor if vomiting lasts more than a few hours, diarrhea is present, signs of dehydration occur, there is a fever higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or if the child hasn't urinated for six hours.
  • Take a child over age six years to the doctor if vomiting lasts one day, diarrhea combined with vomiting lasts for more than 24 hours, there are signs of dehydration, there is a fever higher than 102 degrees or the child hasn't urinated for six hours.

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
  • 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 a doctor before using these treatments.

How Can I Prevent Nausea?

There are several ways to try and prevent nausea from developing:

  • 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 if you nauseated by 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.

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