Having an unsettled stomach resonates with everyone. The moment your brain senses any uneasiness in your gut, vomiting comes to the rescue and this action by itself is involuntary, that is, it is not totally under your control. Rather, it is umpired by the autonomic and somatic systems of your body and is largely instantaneous.

One fascinating thing about throwing up is that it is accompanied by some relief, as a result of sickness or medication. For some however, it may not be as fascinating as it can leave one embarrassed.

Classic case scenario!!!

Once, a woman en route Abuja from Calabar, sat beside me with her daughters aged 6 and 9 respectively. While in transit and in no less than 2 hours into the journey of at least 10 hours, the girls started off on a vomiting spree. Their mother, clearly embarrassed tried to admonish them. According to her, she tried to prevent the humiliating incident by not giving them food that morning. Well, it happened regardless. We had to come to a halt in order to get  a sack bag for her kids to puke into as the journey progressed.


Much to our surprise, 2 hours later, there were bouts of vomiting but not from the girls this time. It was their mother!  The stench was so bad we had to alight and scurry for fresh air. Now that wasn’t so grown up, right?

Luckily, today’s post offers great insight into vomiting – possible triggers, tips to identify that awkward moment you may have to excuse yourself just before you puke, and home remedies for nausea and vomiting.

Medically, vomiting is described as regurgitation of ingested gastric content. Simply put, it is the reflex act of ejecting stomach contents through the mouth.

Food poisoning takes the center stage as a leading cause of puking. Usually, the timing of the nausea or vomiting indicates the guilty party. If immediately after a meal, it’s likely food borne, inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), an ulcer, or bulimia (an eating disorder).

Vomiting can be a sign of an underlying gastrointestinal condition or an allergic reaction to certain ingested or even inhaled substances. Just like other signs and symptoms, it is not a disease on its own, but an indication of one.

Causes of vomiting according to age may include overfeeding, poor swallowing reflex, aspiration, poor gastric function, etc. this is peculiar in newborns.

According to disease condition;

– Gastric and peptic ulcers

– Typhoid fever

– Malaria fever

– Flu

– Gastritis


– Oesophageal disorders

– Anxiety

According to hormonal changes;

– Pregnancy and labour

– Dysmenorrhea

– Hyperprolactinemia

– Menopause

Other causes include;

– Poisoning

– Allergies

– Hunger

– Motion

Vomiting can also serve as a warning mechanism instead of a sign of occurring disease; for instance, with food poisoning and snake bites.

How do you know you’re about to vomit?

Normally, the urge to puke can happen to anyone; however, some people learn early in their lives that they are more prone to the condition. Remember the woman and her daughters in the classic case scenario? It wasn’t totally their fault.

Motion sickness is a cause of vomiting that can pack a punch of embarrassment. It’s usually due to a sensation of wooziness that occurs while you’re traveling by car, boat, plane, or train. Obviously, your body’s sensory organs have a hard time deciphering the mixed messages sent to your brain. When this happens, you’ll feel dizzy, lightheaded and a nauseating sensation climbs up your chest like a torrent of larva waiting to erupt.

So while travelling, people take extra precautions to avert or quell the situation.

 Vomiting usually comes in two stages:

  • Pre-ejection level: this is basically the relaxation of the muscles of your stomach and the small intestines. This causes a reversed movement of your stomach content. Then your body raises an alarm, and probably alerts you to locate the loo.
  • Ejection phase: this involves the actual ‘throw up’ of your stomach content. Here, you’ll need to keep within range to avoid splashing your guts on others. It can be caused by a number of reasons, ranging from disorders from an empty stomach to ones from a full stomach, or even those totally unrelated to either.

Now, while nausea and vomiting are signs of trouble, there are also signs of impending vomiting. These include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Rapid pulse
  • Vertigo
  • Lightheadedness
  • Diaphoresis
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Gagging
  • Retching
  • Choking
  • Stomach reflexes

The mouth also gets filled with saliva in order to protect the teeth from the effect of reflux stomach acid.

What to do if you're about to vomit

Listed below are precautions to avoid choking on your own vomit;

  • Sit, or place yourself in a lying-propped up position.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, acidic drinks.
  • Eat or drink something peppery, like ginger biscuits or spicy soups.
  • Suck on ice chips or have a cold drink. Cold drinks always help.
  • Avoid oily and sugary foods.
  • Snack on bland foods like, crackers, dried bread etc.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises.

Home remedies for vomiting

There are several thoughts on home remedies for preventing and stopping vomiting.  Some of the more general ideas are;

  • Do not drink hot and cold foods together.
  • Drink clear or ice cold drinks.
  • Eat and drink slowly.
  • Wrist acupressure

The less general ideas are;

  • The BART meal therapy – the BART meal therapy simply consists of Bananas, Apples, Rice and Toast. These help ease the queasy feeling (nausea) and most times, stall vomiting. Bananas and apples are most often times referred to as happy fruits, because they raise serotonin and dopamine levels in the body. These hormones are responsible for a person’s moods and can very likely improve anxiety and therefore prevent anxiety induced vomiting.
  • Rice and toast are considered as bland. i e. they have almost no taste. Bland foods do not stimulate vomiting but instead, help to settle stomach acids and prevent gastric reflux.
  • Ginger, fennel and clove drink – as simple as this seems, a drink made out of these herbs can actually have a number of purifying effects on the body, one of which is stopping vomiting. It is prepared by soaking ginger, fennel and cloves in hot water for a few minutes. Ingested slowly, it can put a stop to vomiting or at best, prevent it.

The ginger, fennel and clove drink also makes for a good aroma-therapeutic medium. The hot brew, if inhaled, helps stop nausea.

It remains uncertain however, whether this mixture is contraindicated in pregnancy but like every ingestible substance you’re unsure of, avoid such during pregnancy.

– Ginger and honey drink sipped all day can also stall vomiting.

Aromatherapy as a remedy

Aromatherapy is the use of sweet, hot, spicy etc., aromas in the cure of symptoms. In the case of vomiting, spicy aromas help to settle queasy stomachs. The ginger, fennel and clove combination explained above has a sweet, spicy aroma that helps with queasiness and prevents vomiting.

In some cases, after exposure to aromatherapy, a person feeling nauseous may begin to have runny nose and/or sweat excessively, instead of vomiting.

The setback of both the aromatherapy and ingestion methods is the time required for its preparation. Sometimes it is just easier to pop a pill.

Medications to stop vomiting

The use of antihistamines and steroids has, over the years, proven to be very effective in resolving nausea and vomiting. It is common for the complaint of nausea and vomiting to be dealt with using medicaments rather than home-made therapies; which are widely considered as long processes.

Common antihistamine medications used for nausea and vomiting are; Chloperamide and Metochlopromide or more popularly known as Plasil, Promethazine and their likes. Steroids given in tandem or solely, include; dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, amongst others. Most of these medications are usually administered in hospitals upon complaints of nausea and/or vomiting.

What kind of tea relieves vomiting?

All kinds of tea provide some sort of relief for different ills such as bloating, stomach pain and discomfort but for vomiting, ginger tea, peppermint, and chamomile tea offer great relief.

Ginger and peppermint tea work better for their spicy taste, which helps ease nausea; and chamomile tea has a muscle relaxing effect, thus relaxing the gastrointestinal (GI) muscles and providing relief for nausea and vomiting.

Does throwing up make one feel better?

Vomiting or throwing up usually leaves people feeling empty, intensely hungry, thirsty and sometimes, irritated. But it always feels better to let out the stomach content disturbing the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), hence the relief one feels after throwing up.

Rinsing your mouth with salted water gets rid of the stomach acid, helps with your breath and to an extent, your appetite. You would know the acid is in your mouth by the sour taste and sudden sharpness you would feel if you gritted your teeth.

How long should vomiting last?

Vomiting lasting more than two days is a cause for alarm. It is not only abnormal but dangerous. Therefore, vomiting should be controlled within, at most, two days after its onset.

Several, recurring episodes of vomiting could lead to severe dehydration if left uncontrolled. To control vomiting most times, the trigger must be ascertained and treated.

In pregnant women, vomiting as part of morning sickness may last up to twelve weeks or more. Excessive vomiting in pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum), may be detrimental to not only the woman, but also the foetus.

Rehydration is the key to handling vomiting. Whatever the cause or whoever is affected, the patient should have access to clean water for consumption. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol.

Why do you shake after vomiting?

Shivers may occur after vomiting following the sudden change from cold to heat then cold again. This results from muscles contracting and relaxing, generating heat in the process. If the vomiting is accompanied by a fever, this change could lead to rigor.

To better manage this;

Sit still or lie down after vomiting.

Prop head up to allow in as much air as possible.

Use warm water to rinse mouth off, then drink cold water.

Take an analgesic, like, paracetamol.

Do not lie flat for at least two hours after eating.

What are the complications of vomiting?

Vomiting shouldn’t last beyond two days as excessive vomiting is detrimental to health. It constitutes an excessive loss in body fluid volume which creates an imbalance of fluids and electrolytes in the body. This eventually leads to severe dehydration, shock, loss of consciousness and eventually death.

Muscle wasting can occur if vomiting episodes become regular, without replacement.

Fluid replacement is paramount to aid anyone vomiting. As it is usually impossible to retain any ingested substances, hospitalization may be necessary in order for an intravenous fluid replacement.

It is important to note that not all vomiting episodes are due to illnesses. Some are associated with irritation, anxiety (which is a mild psychological disorder though) and even anger.




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