Nausea and Vomiting: What's Wrong?
Nausea and vomiting are extremely unpleasant but usually not harmful. Common causes include viral infection, pregnancy, certain medications, food poisoning, and motion sickness.
More serious symptoms such as confusion, abdominal pain, high fever, weakness, and/or persistent vomiting may be a sign of a more serious condition and should be evaluated by a doctor.
Signs of Dehydration
If you or your child has been vomiting, watch for signs of dehydration: increased thirst, dry lips or mouth, sunken eyes, and rapid breathing or a quickened heartbeat.
Children have a much higher risk of dehydration than adults. In infants, decreased urination and no tears are also red flags for dehydration.
With vomiting, it's important to replace fluids. Adults and children can drink water or suck on ice chips, electrolyte drinks, or oral rehydration solutions.
Children under 6 are most at risk for dehydration. They may require a rehydration solution after only a few hours of vomiting.
What About Flat Soda?
Although some people say flat soda settles the stomach, you may want to limit the number of sweetened beverages your child drinks. Too much sugary fluid, like juice or soda, can cause diarrhea.
Once vomiting has eased, you can begin a liquid diet. Small amounts of clear chicken broth or diluted apple juice are a good start.
As food and drink are tolerated, you can move on to soft foods, such as gelatin and applesauce. The next day, move to bland solid foods, including rice and toast.
Most of the time nausea and vomiting go away on their own. But for some people, medications called antiemetics can prevent and control vomiting brought on by nausea.
Certain medications help with nausea and vomiting related to motion sickness or from chemotherapy. It's best to check with a doctor before using medication.
It may sound like an old wives' tale, but some research suggests that ginger may be an effective remedy for nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy, motion sickness, and following surgery. In a study funded by the National Cancer Institute, chemotherapy patients who took as little as ¼ teaspoon of ginger per day experienced significantly less nausea.
Some studies suggest wrist acupressure can help manage nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy and chemotherapy.
One pressure point thought to help nausea is on the inside of your arm, a few inches above the wrist.
When to Call the Doctor
Seek immediate medical attention for children or adults if illness is severe, a person is unresponsive or too weak to move or stand, or if vomiting is accompanied by a stiff neck, severe headache, abdominal pain, vomiting of blood or coffee grounds, black tarry stools, confusion, high fever, or poisoning is suspected. People at high risk due to an underlying condition or needing essential medicine should also call their doctor.