Vomiting (Adult)

Vomiting is a common symptom that may be due to different causes. These include gastroenteritis (stomach flu), food poisoning, and gastritis. Other more serious causes of vomiting may be hard to diagnose early in the illness. That's why it's important to watch for the warning signs listed below.

The main danger from repeated vomiting is dehydration. This is because of the loss of water and minerals from the body. When this occurs, your body fluids must be replaced.

Home care

  • If symptoms are severe, rest at home for the next 24 hours.

  • Because your symptoms may be from an infection, wash your hands often and well. Use soap and clean, running water or alcohol-based sanitizer to keep from spreading the infection to others.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Scrub all surfaces of your hands, including between your fingers and under your fingernails each time you wash. Humming the Happy Birthday song twice while you wash is an easy way to make sure you've washed for 20 seconds.

  • Wash your hands after using the toilet, before and after preparing food, before eating food, after changing a diaper, cleaning a wound, caring for a sick person, and blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. You should also wash your hands after caring for someone who is sick, touching pet food, or treats, and touching an animal, or animal waste.

  • You may use acetaminophen or NSAID medicines such as ibuprofen or naproxen to control fever, unless another medicine was prescribed. Talk with your provider before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or digestive bleeding. Never give aspirin to anyone younger than 18 who is ill with a fever. It may cause severe liver damage. Don't use NSAID medicines if you are already taking one for another condition such as arthritis or take aspirin for heart disease or after a stroke.

  • Don't use tobacco or drink alcohol. These may make your symptoms worse. If you have trouble stopping either substance, ask your provider for treatment resources.

  • If medicines for vomiting were prescribed, take as directed. Tell your provider if they don't work within the expected time period.

  • Once vomiting stops, then follow these guidelines:

During the first 12 to 24 hours, follow the diet below:

  • Fruit juices. Apple, grape juice, clear fruit drinks, and electrolyte replacement drinks.

  • Beverages. Water, soft drinks without caffeine; mineral water (plain or flavored), and decaffeinated tea and coffee.

  • Soups. Clear broth and bouillon.

  • Desserts. Plain gelatin, ice pops, and fruit juice bars. As you feel better, you may add 6 to 8 ounces of yogurt per day.

During the next 24 hours you may add the following to the above:

  • Hot cereal, plain toast, bread, rolls, and crackers

  • Plain noodles, rice, mashed potatoes, and chicken noodle or rice soup

  • Unsweetened canned fruit such as applesauce, bananas. Don't have pineapple or citrus.

  • Limit caffeine and chocolate. No spices or seasonings except salt.

During the next 24 hours:

Gradually go back to your normal diet, as you feel better and your symptoms lessen.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Constant right-sided lower belly pain or increasing general belly pain

  • Continued vomiting (unable to keep liquids down) for 24 hours

  • Vomiting blood or what looks like coffee grounds

  • Swollen belly

  • Frequent diarrhea (more than 5 times a day), or blood (red or black color) or mucus in diarrhea

  • Peeing less than usual or extreme thirst

  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

  • Unusually drowsy or confused

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) oral or higher, or as directed by your provider

  • Yellow color of the eyes or skin

  • Other symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms

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