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Section I–Common Health Problems - Vomiting & Nausea

HealthyLife® Students' Self-Care Guide

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 Section I–Common Health Problems

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Vomiting & Nausea

"My roommate was real sick. She was throwing
up and was real embarrassed because we had a community bathroom. It was
pretty gross. But I told her we all get sick."

Tala E., University of Michigan

Signs & Symptoms

Vomiting is throwing up the stomach’s
contents. Dry heaves may precede or follow vomiting.

Nausea is when you feel like you’re
going to vomit.

Causes

Viruses in the intestines
Some medications, such as certain
antibiotics
Eating too much or eating spoiled food
Drinking too much (e.g., alcohol)
Motion sickness
Morning sickness in pregnant females

Medical conditions that cause
vomiting include: Labyrinthitis (inflammation of an area in the ear that
usually results from an upper respiratory infection); stomach ulcers; hepatitis;
meningitis; and a concussion from a head
injury. For example, after falling from a loft, dry heaves or vomiting could
be a sign of a concussion.

{Note: Nausea and vomiting can be signs of having a date
rape drug.}

Treatment

Treatment for nausea and/or vomiting depends
on the cause.

Questions to Ask

Besides vomiting, do you have
signs of meningitis
?

 
After a recent case of the flu or chicken pox with
sudden, repeated vomiting, are other signs of
Reye’s Syndrome
present?

 
Do dry heaves and/or vomiting occur after a recent
head injury or do you vomit true, red blood?

 

With vomiting, are any signs of
drug or alcohol poisoning

present?

  • Confusion; lethargy; slurred speech

  • Impaired motor functioning

  • Shallow breathing

  • Clammy skin

  • Weak, but rapid pulse

  • Agitation, combativeness

  • Seizure

  • Unconsciousness

 
After repeated vomiting, do you have
signs of dehydration
?

 
With vomiting, do you have symptoms of an acute
kidney infection
?

 
With nausea or vomiting, do the whites of your
eyes or does your skin look yellow?

 
With nausea or vomiting, do you have
symptoms of a bladder infection
?

 
Do you have stomach pain that lasts for more than
2 hours, interferes with your activities, and keeps hurting after you
vomited?

 
Do you induce vomiting after overeating or to lose
weight?

 
Are you vomiting medicine that is necessary for
you to take (e.g., asthma medicines)?

 

Self-Care

For Vomiting:

Don’t eat solid foods, drink milk or
alcohol, smoke, or take aspirin.
Drink clear liquids (water, sport drinks,
flat cola and ginger ale, etc.). Take small sips. Drink 1 to 2 ounces at
a time, but drink often. Suck on ice chips if nothing else will stay
down.
Gradually return to regular diet, but wait
about 8 hours from the last time you vomited. Start with foods that are
easy to digest, like crackers.

For Nausea Without
Vomiting:

Drink clear liquids. Eat small amounts of
dry foods, such as soda crackers, (if tolerated).
Avoid things that irritate the stomach,
such as alcohol, aspirin, spicy, and fried foods.
For motion sickness, use an
over-the-counter antinausea medicine, such as Dramamine. Or use
Sea-Bands, a wrist band product that uses acupressure on a certain point
on the wrist.

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6th edition. American Institute for Preventive Medicine
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December 08, 2005