Understanding Nausea and Vomiting -- Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on September 12, 2023
3 min read

It's often hard to tell why you are nauseated or vomiting. A health care provider will likely be able to find out what is happening to you. They will ask about the severity and timing of your symptoms, as well as take a food history and ask if you have had any contact with sick people. You will also undergo a physical exam to look for causes and signs of dehydration. Blood and/or urine tests and/or an abdominal X-ray may be taken to determine the cause of nausea and vomiting.

Home treatments can help relieve nausea.

  • Drink water, sports drinks, or broths. Juices and soft drinks should be avoided.
  • Eat as tolerated, but only light, bland foods, such as crackers or plain bread to begin with. If your nausea is chronic, you'll need to find a variety of vegetables and proteins that don't upset your stomach to maintain proper nutrition.
  • Stay away from fried or greasy foods.
  • Steer clear of sweets.
  • Eat small meals and eat them slowly.
  • Rest a while after eating with your head elevated.

After determining the cause of nausea and vomiting, there are prescription drugs that your doctor can give you if the symptoms are not getting better on their own.

When a child spits up or vomits, it can be messy and worrying. But it's usually not a cause for alarm.

Call 911 if a child is vomiting and may have swallowed something poisonous.

Call the doctor if your child:

  • Is vomiting often
  • Spits up or vomits strongly
  • Spits up more than 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk
  • Spits up brown, red, or green liquid
  • Does not gain weight
  • Wets fewer diapers than usual
  • Is sluggish or very tired or prefers not to move
  • Has a fever higher than 102 F
  • Has blood in vomit or stools
  • Has been vomiting and cries without tears
  • Has diarrhea more than once a day

Spitting up is common until babies start eating solid foods. It's not the same as vomiting. Spitting up usually happens when babies burp and happens without any effort on their part.

To prevent spitting up:

  • Feed the baby in an upright position, and keep them upright for at least 20 minutes after being fed.
  • Feed smaller amounts more often, and burp the baby every 5 to 10 minutes if they are being breastfed or after every 1 to 2 ounces with the bottle.
  • Avoid putting pressure on the baby's stomach when burping the baby over your shoulder.
  • Avoid moving the baby a lot during and right after feeding.
  • If the spitting up seems excessive or if your baby seems unhappy with spit-up, discuss the situation with your doctor.

Vomiting is forceful and more painful than spitting up. Vomiting can cause a child to lose fluids, so it's important to watch for dehydration.

First, treat the symptoms:

  • Give fluids in small amounts. If the child vomits afterward, wait 20 to 30 minutes and give the fluids again. If a child has vomited two or more times, call your doctor.
  • If your infant is breastfeeding, nurse them more often and for shorter amounts of time.
  • Your doctor may want you to give your baby small amounts of oral electrolyte solution. Check the amount with your doctor.
  • Give toddlers about 1 tablespoon of oral electrolyte solution, ice chips, diluted juice, or clear broth every 15 minutes. If your child continues to vomit, call your doctor.

Once your child has gone 3 to 4 hours without vomiting, give them larger amounts of fluid.

After 8 hours without vomiting, breastfeed babies as usual, and slowly start giving formula. Feed toddlers small portions of mild foods from their regular diet; avoid spicy foods, fried foods, and foods that are high in fat or greasy.

After your child goes 24 hours without vomiting, go back to their normal diet.