Nausea and Vomiting

Old or young, when you feel sick, there are few things worse than feeling nauseous and vomiting. Nausea itself is an uneasiness of the stomach, which may or may not lead to vomiting. And although they may feel it, they are symptoms of diseases rather than diseases themselves. They are usually a result of things like:

Viral and bacterial infections like colds and flu’s

Food poisoning

Over eating and indigestion

Certain smells and odors

Intense pain

High fever

Emotional stress (like fear or excitement)

Motion sickness

, seasickness, and dizziness Early pregnancy (“morning sickness”)

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation

Exposure to toxins (poisons, chemicals)

Blocked intestine (rather uncommon, and usually found in early infancy)

Appendicitis

Head injuries, like concussions, migraines

, brain injury And sometimes they’re a sign of more serious injuries like kidney and liver disorders, heart attacks

, brain tumors, gall bladder disease, nervous system disorders, and some kinds of cancer.

Often, if you aren’t sure of the cause you can determine it merely from the time when the feelings first occur. If it occurs right after a meal, indigestion, an ulcer, or a mental disorder (such as bulimia) could be to blame. One to eight hours after a meal could indicate food poisoning. Diseases like salmonella may take several days before any nausea is felt.

Luckily, in many cases both nausea and vomiting can be controlled to some degree.

If you’re feeling nauseous you can do the following to try and control or stop the feelings.

Drink clear or cold drinks

Eat light simple foods, like saltine crackers, which don’t have a strong taste or odor. Take care to avoid sweet, greasy, and fried foods as they will only make you feel worse. Also do not mix hot and cold foods

Eat slowly, and have small frequent meals throughout the day as opposed to three larger meals.

Drink beverages slowly and take small sips, try to drink between meals instead of during them.

Do not brush your teeth right after eating

Avoid activities immediately after eating, instead rest after eating with your head elevated about twelve inches above your feet. Activity may increase nausea.

If you feel nauseous when you wake up in the morning, have some crackers (like saltines) before getting up and moving about, or have a snack before bed that’s high in protein (like cheese, or some lean slices of meat)

If you already feel nauseous and want to avoid the unpleasantness of vomiting, try these tips:

Drink small amounts of sweet clear cool liquids, like ginger ale, fruit juice (try to avoid citrus—orange, grapefruit—drinks as they are too acidic), etc. Sweet liquids are good for calming the stomach.

Eating cool sweet things like popsicles may also help to calm your stomach. However do not eat or drink too many sweet things, only have a little at a time or the condition may worsen.

You can also get some prescription and non-prescription drugs to help control vomiting and nausea related to pregnancy, vertigo, and motion sickness, but make sure you speak with your doctor before starting on any new medication- even if it is over the counter. Also, if you’re vomiting due to treatment of another kind (such as chemotherapy) your doctor may be able to prescribe something to control the nausea.

If you do get sick

In most cases vomiting is harmless, but sometimes it can indicate or even cause problems. With vomiting you should always be on the lookout for signs of dehydration, especially with children. Children need to be watched extra carefully because unlike adults, they can’t easily recognize the signs and symptoms of dehydration. Here are a few of the symptoms to look out for.

Dry lips or mouth

Increased thirst

Decreased urination, or urine that is dark in color.

Sunken eyes

Rapid breathing or pulse (mainly in infants)

If diarrhea occurs along with the vomiting, make sure to keep a very close watch on the person and give them small amounts of clear, cool, sweet drinks. Drinks with electrolytes (like a watered down sports drink)

Consult your doctor if

Vomiting goes on for longer than one day (or if they are very young and it continues for a few hours)

There is blood in the vomit.

If the vomiting is occurring because of a known injury, like head trauma or infection.

The child has not urinated in at 6 hours.

The person acts confused, lazy or lethargic, and is less alert than usual.

They have a fever of over 102 Fahrenheit

Vomiting and diarrhea are present

Severe abdominal pain is present

Severe headache or stiff neck is present

Feelings of nausea last for longer than one week.

With these exceptions, vomiting can be treated at home. Give the person small amounts of clear liquids, increasing the amount as feelings of nausea subside. This will discourage dehydration. Avoid solid foods until feelings of nausea have totally passed. Also discontinue taking any oral medications, as they may further upset the stomach, but make sure you check with your doctor before doing this.

*** Before administering any first aid to anyone outside your family, be aware of your rights and responsibilities: The Good Samaritan Law. ***