Learn About Ailments | Vomiting


Vomiting is the forceful emptying of the stomach through the mouth that can happen both voluntarily and involuntarily. Vomiting can be a symptom of an underlying cause such as infection, poisoning or emotional stress. Constant vomiting during pregnancy can lead to an imbalance of fluids and minerals that can endanger the mother and unborn baby.

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Vomiting, or emesis, is the violent expulsion of the stomach's contents through the mouth. Vomiting is caused by an underlying problem such as infection, poisoning, excessive consumption (food/alcohol) or drug side-effects. The feeling of being about to vomit is called nausea.

The vomiting process requires the stomach to overcome pressures that usually keep food and secretions inside. During an episode, the stomach nearly turns inside out to force itself into the lower oesophagus and expel its contents.

Common causes of vomiting include:
  • Headaches
  • Motion sickness
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Head injury
  • Noxious smells
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis
  • IBS
  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Pregnancy

The symptoms of vomiting are preceded by a nauseous feeling. There are then a set of physical processes which encompass the act vomiting:
  • The amount of saliva in the mouth increases to protect tooth enamel from stomach acid
  • Sweating and heart rate increase
  • Breathing becomes deeper to avoid aspiration
  • The body starts to retch
  • The contents of the digestive tract are swept up into the stomach
  • The abdominal muscles contract, propelling the stomach contents into the oesopahgus and out through the mouth.

Vomiting is not a condition in itself but a sign of an underlying problem such as an infection or food poisoning. Most cases of vomiting will resolve themselves after a few days and generally do not require medical intervention. It is important to keep hydrated if you're vomiting regularly.

If vomiting is persistent then you should visit your GP who will attempt to determine the cause. If you have suffered a head injury and are vomiting then seek emergency medical attention.

  • Nausea
  • Sick, sickness
  • Gastroenteritis, gastric
  • Stomach bug
  • Vomit, Vomitting
  • Bulimia
  • Motion sickness
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum

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