Forceful discharge of stomach content is termed as throwing up or vomiting. This might be a onetime event that occurs when food doesn’t settle well inside the stomach. However, frequent vomiting might lead to dehydration or several other medical conditions. Vomiting is also known as emesis.

Symptoms of Vomiting

  • Rapid pulse
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vertigo
  • Rapid pulse
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased urination
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fever
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Abdominal pain

Different Causes Of Vomiting

  1. Food poisoning: It refers to a condition that occurs due to consumption of food that is contaminated or spoilt. Bacteria, virus and other anti bodies breed in such kind of food and causes illness and vomiting.
  2. Indigestion: On several occasions the body cannot digest food that has been consumed due to digestive problems or bad eating habits. In such cases, the undigested food is eliminated from the body by vomiting.
  3. Infections: When an infection in the stomach is caused by bacteria or virus, the stomach and intestines undergo inflammation. As a result of this, individuals vomit.
  4. Pregnancy: During pregnancy the body releases reproductive hormones that are new to the system and this often leads to vomiting.
  5. Headache: Certain kind of migraine and other forms of headache cause vomiting.
  6. Prescription medications: Different forms of medication used for chemotherapy often lead to vomiting.
  7. Anesthesia: People often feel the urge to vomit after a surgery due to the use of anesthesia.
  8. Crohn’s disease: People who suffer from a certain types of Crohn’s disease experience the loss of appetite, obstruction of bowels and vomiting.
  9. Dehydration: Loss of fluids from the body may cause a person to vomit.
  10. Esophagitis: It is the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus and it is often known to cause vomiting.

Complications Related to Vomiting

  • Aspiration of the vomitus into the air passage and lungs: Aspiration refers to the breathing in of air which is the only thing allowed inside the respiratory system. However, in case fluids enter the respiratory system, the coughing reflex tries to get rid of it. The coughing reflex may be weak in some cases that often results in the contents of the vomit entering a person’s lungs, causing inflammation, infection, choking, asphyxiation and sometimes may even be fatal.
  • Dehydration: Vomiting causes the body to lose a lot of water and electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonates and chloride ions. These help the body to function normally and any loss leads to an imbalance. Loss of hydrogen and chloride ions occurs due to the removal of gastric acid that may lead to high levels of blood pH. This condition is known as hypochloremic metabolic alkalosis.
  • Dental damage: Vomit contains acid content of the stomach that causes an erosion of the enamel in the teeth. The digestive enzyme present in the vomit also affects the gums. Hence, people who vomit very often may be subjected to serious dental problems because of the contact between the acids and digestive enzymes with their teeth.
  • Injuries in the lining of the esophagus: Vomiting causes immense pressure on the lining of the esophagus. In addition to this, the acidic content and the enzymes also affect it. Vomiting may cause tears in the lining of the esophagus called ‘Mallory-Weiss tear’ that causes bleeding from the esophageal lining and often the vomit contains streaks of fresh blood.

Diagnosis For Vomiting

  • History: In order to diagnose vomiting one must have a clear idea about the individual’s medical history. Vomiting is different from regurgitation which is a case where the food is returned to the mouth without forceful contractions or rumination. History of the symptoms for vomiting helps to identify if the condition is acute or chronic. Moreover, the timing, content, quality and quantity of the emesis also indicate the causes vomiting.
  • Physical examination: Emphasis must be laid on the signs of dehydration, jaundice, lymphadenopathy, thyrotoxicosis, and hypotension. Fingers can be assessed to check the calluses on the dorsal surface which hints at self induced vomiting. Loss of enamel suggests a reflux of gastric content from the esophagus. The physician must also check for psychiatric causes indicated by cases of anxiety, depression and stress.

Also, examination of the abdominal region should be undertaken to check bowel obstruction, gastro paresis, peristalsis, surgical scars, abdominal or inguinal hernias, ulcer or pancreatitis, cholecystisis or biliary tract disease. Neurological examination of the central nervous system might also be needed to check the intracranial pressure that can cause brain stem emesis.

  • Diagnostic approach
    • Laboratory testing
      • Complete blood count test, test for electrolytes
      • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
      • Test for pancreatic/liver enzymes
      • Pregnancy test
      • Protein/albumin test
      • Test for specific toxins
      • Test by use of thyroid stimulating hormones
    • Radiographic testing: Examination by supine and upright abdominal radiography must be conducted to check for bowel obstruction. Partial obstruction may be found in certain cases. In case the results are ambiguous, further testing should be undertaken.

Treatments for Vomiting

  • Remain hydrated: Vomiting causes extreme loss of water from the body resulting in dehydration and imbalance of fluids in the body. This condition might result in fainting too. To avoid such a situation, it is important for the individual to keep his/her body hydrated by drinking water and other healthy fluids.
  • Food: In case of continuous vomiting, the person should be fed when the vomiting subsides. Person should avoid solid greasy food as they may worsen the situation. Simple, bland food that has a watery consistency should be given to the individual. This food has higher chances of remaining in the person’s stomach.
  • Rest: In order to allow the body to absorb the nutrients that it has lost, it is imperative for the person to rest. Resting also allows the food or fluids to settle in the stomach and reduce the chances of vomiting again.
  • Medications: Certain kind of medicines induces vomiting by upsetting the stomach. Such medicines include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids and blood thinners. But it is recommended to consult a physician with regards to the usage or avoidance of certain medicines.
  • Oral rehydrating solution: It is imperative for an individual to have oral rehydration solution because it is rich in electrolytes. While vomiting the body suffers a loss of a lot of electrolytes. Oral rehydration solution is used to replenish the required quantity of electrolytes in the body.

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