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Vomiting

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Vomiting is expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach forcefully up the esophagus and through the mouth or sometimes, the nose. The sensation of wanting to vomit is known as nausea. Vomiting may be induced but unwanted vomiting is caused by a very wide range of different conditions such as gastrointestinal conditions, effects of foreign substances on the body, or other physiological conditions. During vomiting the stomach pushes itself up the lower portion of the esophagus and nearly turns itself inside-out in order to force the contents out. This is a violent reversal of peristalsis, or the natural movement of the stomach to keep food down. This motion often comes in waves and involuntary. When this vomiting motion occurs when the stomach is empty, we experience retching or dry heaves. Vomiting is not an illness but is often an indicator of underlying conditions in the body.

VOMITING SYMPTOMS

Nausea may not always follow with vomiting but the sensation often comes before actually vomiting. Vomiting in itself is a symptom of many other illnesses and thus may be accompanied by a host of other different symptoms altogether. Gastritis and other stomach infections may present stomachache and diarrhea along with vomiting. A fever may also be experienced as well as signs of dehydration may also be experienced. Motion sickness will also cause dizziness and headache.

Other accompanying symptoms may include weakness, shortness of breath or confusion. Dehydration is a real risk for both children and adults who experience vomiting, and if coupled with diarrhea the body can quickly lose a lot of fluids and electrolytes. Children are at a greater risk as they may not be able to inform of their other symptoms. Dry lips, sunken eyes and shortness of breath may be symptoms related to dehydration.

Vomiting may be triggered from different parts of the body. It can occur as a reaction from the digestive tract itself, such as in an event of irritation from infections. The signal may also come from the brain such as in cases of visual stimulus or head injury. The inner ear may also cause signals of vomiting, especially when the sense of balance is disrupted due to motion or position.

The color and texture of the vomit often indicates the type or severity of the condition causing vomiting. Irritation of the stomach lining or gastritis can cause vomiting, as well as gastroenteritis or stomach flu, an infection of the stomach or small intestines caused by bacteria or viruses. This is the body’s reaction to the irritation, and vomiting helps expel the irritants from the stomach. Gastritis produces clear green or yellow vomit which may contain varying levels of blood due to bleeding.
Vomiting
Image: Vomiting

VOMITING CAUSES

Intoxication can cause vomiting as a reaction to the excess alcohol in the person’s body. As alcohol flows in the blood stream, it may not be metabolized immediately, so the body reacts by trying to purge the excess alcohol that is still present in the stomach.

Motion sickness occurs with sensitive individuals when their brain is unable to reconcile the motion of the vehicle they are in as perceived by the inner ear and the seeming stationary view they see. The brain reacts to this by sending signals to the body, causing nausea.

VOMITING RISK FACTOR

Emotional factors such as stress and fear may also cause vomiting as it is part of the body’s flight-or-fight response. Pregnant women also experience “morning sickness”, which is nausea and vomiting that begins in the morning and lessen throughout the day. The exact trigger for this response in pregnant women is not fully understood but several factors that include hormonal changes and the presence of an embryo are likely involved.

Nausea often goes away on its own after vomiting, but some types may persist such as those caused by motion sickness. To help ease nausea, drink sweet drinks as sugar helps calm an upset stomach. Rest in a sitting or reclining position and avoid too much activity to prevent agitating your stomach.

VOMITING TREATMENT

Treatment usually revolves on calming the stomach and preventing a following episode of vomiting. It is advised to drink only clear drinks such as water or fruit juice while experiencing nausea. It is also advised to reduce meal portions and frequency to help reduce vomiting. From 3 big meals, it is advised to take 6 smaller meals instead. To prevent irritation, sweet, spicy or oily foods should be avoided. Milk and dairy products should be avoided as well while vomiting does not subside. If keeping food down is a problem, start eating soft, bland foods first until you can tolerate your regular diet. Avoid overeating and too much activity after meals.

To deal with motion sickness, looking out of the window may help in reorienting yourself and may stop the nausea. Sleeping may also help to reduce the feeling of nausea and allows you to rest. Preventive medications are also available over the counter but consult your doctor first before taking any medication.


However, if your nausea persists for more than a week and home treatments being applied do not relieve nausea nor prevent vomiting then consult with your doctor immediately. Symptoms to watch out for include, diarrhea accompanying vomiting, blood in the vomit and a fever with a temperature greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Your doctor may prescribe medication to suppress vomiting.

VOMITING PREVENTION

Vomiting should be stopped at the sources, so proper practices that prevent the conditions that lead to vomiting are necessary. To prevent gastrointestinal infections, always wash your hands, especial when preparing food, handling pets, before eating and after using the toilet. Make sure that food is always thoroughly cooked or reheated before consuming to prevent bacterial growth. Keep toilets clean and avoid sharing towels to prevent the spread of infection. Over consumption of food, particularly greasy or spicy ones may also aggravate the stomach, as well as excessive drinking. For motion sickness, preventive medication is available, but a good nights rest and avoiding a heavy meal before traveling helps prevent vomiting.
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