Common causes of vomiting include:

  • Medications
  • Viral Infections
  • Seasickness or Motion sickness
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Food Poisoning
  • Food Allergies
  • Chemotherapy in cancer patients
  • Bulimia
  • Alcoholism
  • Swallowing Problems (dysphagia)
  • Intestinal Obstruction

Dehydration is the biggest concern in most vomiting episodes. The rate with which dehydration takes place depends on the size of the person and the frequency of the vomiting.

Signs of Dehydration

  • Signs of dehydration are:
  • Increased thirst,
  • Infrequent urination or dark yellow urine,
  • Dry mouth,
  • Eyes that appear sunken,
  • Skin loses its normal elasticity.

Home Care

Whatever the cause, it is important for the person who has vomited a great deal to take in as much fluid as possible without upsetting the stomach any further. Sip clear fluids such as ginger ale, fruit juices, or Gatorade.

Recommendations for Mealtime

  1. Eat small, frequent meals.
  2. Eat and drink slowly.
  3. Eat only until comfortably satisfied.
  4. Keep liquids to a minimum. Drink liquids 30 minutes to 60 minutes before or after meals.
  5. Avoid extremely hot or cold foods.
  6. Try a variety of foods.
  7. Eat easily digested foods, such as crackers, dry toast, broth, broth-based soups (such as chicken-rice), hard candy, sherbet or gelatin, and cool liquids such as apple juice and clear-colored carbonated beverages (Sprite).
  8. If the above foods are tolerated well, try other mild-flavored, non-fatty foods, such as cereals, rice, plain pasta, baked potatoes, lean meats, fish, chicken, cottage cheese, vegetables and fruits. These foods are usually tolerated better than fatty, spicy or rich foods.
  9. Rest after meals, since activity may increase nausea and lead to vomiting.
  10. When resting, don’t lie flat for at least 2 hours after eating.
  11. It may be helpful to loosen any tight clothing.

Diagnostic Tests

  • Blood tests (such as CBC with differential and basic electrolytes)
  • Urinalysis
  • X-rays of the abdomen


If dehydration is severe, intravenous fluids may be given. This may require hospitalization, although it can often be done in the doctor’s office. The use of anti-vomiting drugs is controversial, and they should be used only in severe cases.

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