Although no one likes it, everyone will experience vomiting at one time or another. Vomiting occurs when the stomach moves food up and out, instead of down through the digestive tract. In the majority of cases, vomiting can be treated at home with fluids. In severe instances, such as with poisoning, vomiting should be treated by emergency medicine professionals.

Whenever you eat or drink, food travels through your digestive system for processing. Your body absorbs nutrients and removes waste products via the digestive system. When you eat, your tongue moves chewed food to the back of your throat. When you swallow, the food moves into the opening of the esophagus. Your esophagus is a tube that moves food from your throat to your stomach.

Your stomach produces acids to break down food for digestion and processes it into a liquid form. The liquid travels from your stomach to your small intestine, where it is further processed, sent to the large intestine, and eventually eliminated from your body.

Vomiting is caused by many things. Infections, motion sickness, morning sickness during pregnancy, medications, migraines, food poisoning, alcohol, and food allergies are common causes of vomiting. When you vomit, the muscles around your stomach push food up the esophagus and out of the throat.

Vomiting causes food to move up out of the stomach and through the throat and mouth. You may feel nausea and have an increase in saliva before you vomit. Your throat may burn and you may have a bad taste in your mouth.

The majority of cases of vomiting do not require medical attention. However, you should contact your doctor if you experience severe vomiting, vomiting which lasts for several days, or if you cannot keep any food or fluid in your stomach. You doctor will examine you and conduct lab tests to help determine the cause of your vomiting.

In the majority of cases, vomiting is treated with rest and fluids. It is important to drink fluids to stay hydrated. It may be easier to consume fluids in small amounts. People with severe dehydration may need IV fluids and hospitalization.

Am I at Risk
You are at risk for vomiting if you have:

  • Morning sickness during pregnancy
  • Alcoholism
  • Food allergies
  • Food poisoning
  • Cancer and are treated with some types of chemotherapy
  • Complications
    Dehydration is a primary concern following vomiting. Make sure that you are consuming enough liquids to counter those that are lost by vomiting. If you suspect that you are vomiting because of a serious condition, you should seek emergency medical treatment.

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    This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

    The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Author Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on January 15th, 2013. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.