Vomiting: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach through the mouth or an involuntary emptying of one’s stomach contents through the mouth. Vomiting is a symptom of many conditions, some of which are serious.

The word vomit comes from the Latin word “vomo”, meaning to throw up. Vomiting may be a self-limited condition with rapid resolution, which would indicate that no further treatment beyond support is needed. However, severe symptoms such as dehydration or neurological deterioration should prompt hospital admission.

There are two types of vomiting: dry heaving and actual vomiting.

  1. Dry heaving is when someone tries to vomit but nothing comes out.
  2. Actual vomiting is when a person vomits and releases all contents in their stomach through their mouth.


The symptoms of vomiting include nausea, stomach pain, and a general feeling of unease. The most common cause is food poisoning or an underlying illness.

The following are the most common symptoms of vomiting:


Vomiting is a normal bodily function that helps to get rid of toxins from the body. Vomiting can be caused by a variety of factors.

Vomiting can be caused by many different factors:

It can also be caused by psychological problems like:

  • Viral Infections
  • Food poisoning
  • Motion sickness
  • Stomach flu, or other stomach issues
  • Mental illness, or even as a result of a medical procedure.
  • Eating disorders
    • Overeating
    • Eating spoiled food
  • Depression
  • Ulcer disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney disease

The most common cause of vomiting in adults is gastroenteritis – an infection or irritation in the digestive system which causes inflammation and irritation to the stomach lining. Gastroenteritis usually lasts for about a week.

Risk factors

The risk factors of vomiting are not well understood. There are many theories about the cause of vomiting, but the most common theory is that vomiting is a response to an irritation in the gastrointestinal tract.

The risk factors of vomiting are primarily brought on by the ingestion of food or other substances. It is important to know the risk factors of vomiting in order to identify when it may be necessary to seek medical attention. The most common risk factors are:

  • Traveling or eating abroad
  • Glandular fever, influenza, and other viral infections that cause nausea and vomiting such as mononucleosis, HIV/AIDS, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection
  • Gastroenteritis or food poisoning
  • Meningitis or encephalitis (brain infection)
  • Pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and eclampsia
  • Intrauterine device (IUD) insertion
  • Medications such as corticosteroids, chemotherapy, and pregnancy steroids
  • Hypoxic brain injury


Vomiting is a symptom of many conditions. It can be caused by a stomach virus or food poisoning, or it can be a side effect of certain medications.

If someone has been vomiting for more than 24 hours or if there are other symptoms like fever, alarm bells should ring and the person should be taken to the hospital for examination.

A medical diagnosis for vomiting is a process of elimination. The first step is to identify if the person has any other symptoms that would be consistent with a more serious condition.

To find a root cause of vomiting, doctors will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam. They will also want to know what you’ve been taking in order to see if it causes any side effects.

Blood and urine tests may be done to look for signs of infection. Women may also take a pregnancy test.


The treatment for vomiting depends on the cause of the vomiting. If it is a stomach illness, then the person should drink plenty of fluids and take any over-the-counter medications that they are prescribed to help with nausea and vomiting. If it is from a psychological problem, then they should seek professional help from a therapist or psychiatrist to deal with the root cause of their problem.


Vomiting is not usually serious and people who vomit are not at risk of dehydration because they have already lost the liquid in their stomach. But vomiting can be very unpleasant and sometimes people vomit repeatedly which can lead to exhaustion and dehydration.

The best way to prevent vomiting is to ensure that your diet includes plenty of fluids, especially water, and that you drink before you feel thirsty so you don’t become dehydrated. You should also avoid drinking alcohol or taking any medications that may trigger vomiting during pregnancy or if it causes nausea or vomits.


Vomiting is a reflex that occurs when the stomach contracts and forces the contents of the stomach through the esophagus and out of the mouth. Vomiting can be caused by a number of different factors, including infections, food poisoning, motion sickness, reaction to medication or toxins, or mental health conditions. It can also be caused by eating too much at once or too quickly.