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Nausea and vomiting: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common complaints of many diseases and disorders. Nausea is an unpleasant, uneasy feeling in the gut that may or may not result in vomiting. Vomiting is the act of forcibly throwing up and emptying the stomach.

Nausea and vomiting: Incidence, age and sex

Nausea and vomiting may affect both genders equally and can be seen in any age group. The incidence of nausea and vomiting generally depends upon the incidence of the disease conditions associated with them.

Signs and symptoms of nausea and vomiting: Diagnosis

Nausea is often characterized by an urge to vomit. One often feels this sensation coming from stomach, but it is mostly controlled by the brain. After vomiting, the sensation of nausea improves a little. With severe nausea, vomiting may continue till all food and liquid consumed is thrown up.

With repeated vomiting, there is loss of fluids from the body resulting in dehydration. In this case, one may have increased thirst and dryness of the mouth. In children, signs of dehydration may include lethargy, dry mouth, sunken eyes, rapid breathing, and even less frequent urination.

Causes and prevention of nausea and vomiting

It may occur due to number of diseases and illness related to gastrointestinal system. Sometimes it may not be related to gastro-intestinal cause, as in case of nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy, or in the event of brain tumour and meningitis. Some common cause of nausea and vomiting include acute gastritis, food poisoning, motion sickness, vertigo, gall bladder disease and appendicitis. Nausea and vomiting may also occur as side-effects of certain medications. Such medicines include those used in cancer treatment (chemotherapy) or strong analgesics.

Nausea and vomiting: Complications

Vomiting can be dangerous if the vomit gets accidentally aspirated gets into the lungs. Usually the gag reflex can prevent it from happening, but this protective reflex is compromised in an alcoholic or someone who is under anaesthesia. In such a case, the subject may choke himself and die.

With prolonged vomiting, there may be dehydration which may further lead to weight loss or weakness. Vomit is acidic in nature and the tooth enamel (outer covering of the tooth) gets destroyed easily in an acidic environment, thus leading to dental caries in cases of prolonged vomiting.

Nausea and vomiting: Treatment

Home care measures include adequate rest and avoidance of spicy food. Clear fluids should be taken to begin with to avoid dehydration and slowly the diet should be advanced. Milk and milk products should be avoided, since they may cause bloating. Juice should also be avoided since it may irritate the intestines.

If nausea and vomiting last for more than a day or two, and one is not able to trace the reason, then appropriate medical advice and treatment need to be taken. Symptomatic relief may be provided by antiemetic drugs, but the real treatment lies in treating the underlying cause.