Vomiting in adults


Vomiting in adults is a common symptom of many medical conditions, such as viral and bacterial infections, food intolerances, and other illnesses. It can also be caused by certain medications and lifestyle habits. In most cases, vomiting is a symptom rather than a condition itself, but it can cause dehydration and other serious complications if it lasts for more than 24 hours or is accompanied by fever, headache, or abdominal pain. Treatment usually involves managing the underlying cause. In some cases, over-the-counter medications may help, but prescription medications may be needed for severe cases.


The most common symptom of vomiting in adults is nausea, often accompanied by dizziness, sweating, and a feeling of weakness. Other common symptoms include abdominal cramping and pain, loss of appetite, and a feeling of fullness. Severe cases may also involve fever, chills, rapid heartbeat, and dehydration. In addition, adults may experience a bad taste in their mouth as a result of vomiting.


The most common causes of vomiting in adults include food poisoning, viral or bacterial infections, motion sickness, indigestion, food allergies, migraine headaches, pregnancy, excessive alcohol consumption, use of certain medications, and liver or gallbladder problems. Less commonly, vomiting may be a sign of a more serious medical condition such as appendicitis, pancreatitis, bowel obstruction, cancer, or heart attack.

Risk factors

Risk factors for vomiting in adults include:

  • Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Eating contaminated or spoiled food
  • Having certain food allergies
  • Infections, such as gastroenteritis.
  • Taking certain medications, such as chemotherapy
  • Severe pain
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Motion sickness
  • Certain neurological conditions, such as epilepsy
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Pregnancy
  • Brain injury or trauma
  • Over-exertion
  • Kidney or liver disorders


Vomiting in adults can be diagnosed by a physical exam and medical history where the doctor will ask questions about the type of vomiting, frequency, associated symptoms, and any recent medical treatments. Additional tests may be ordered including blood work, imaging tests, endoscopy, and tests for gastrointestinal infections. The doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications, stress management, and exercise in order to improve symptoms. In rare cases, further medical intervention may be necessary.


Vomiting in adults can be classified into several subtypes, including infectious, metabolic, neurological, and functional causes.

  1. Infectious Causes: These can include viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, food poisoning, and environmental exposure to toxins.
  2. Metabolic Causes: These include liver or kidney disease, changes in the body’s electrolyte, acid-base, or hormone balance, and side effects of certain medications or supplements.
  3. Neurological Causes: These can be caused by brain tumors, head injuries, strokes, or migraines.
  4. Functional Causes: Functional causes of vomiting in adults include functional gastrointestinal disorders, functional dyspepsia, and psychogenic vomiting.


The treatment options for vomiting in adults usually depend on the underlying cause. Generally, the goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and prevent dehydration. Options can include:

  1. Stopping all food and fluids for several hours and then slowly reintroducing them.
  2. Taking medications to help with nausea, such as antihistamines or prochlorperazine (Compazine).
  3. Avoiding foods or drinks that may worsen vomiting symptoms, such as those high in fat.
  4. Drinking clear liquids, such as water and sports drinks, to replenish lost fluids.
  5. Eating small, frequent meals rather than large meals.
  6. Taking vitamin B-6 or ginger supplements, as they may help reduce nausea.
  7. Taking antiemetics, such as ondansetron (Zofran), if the vomiting is severe or persistent.
  8. If a bacterial infection is causing the vomiting, taking antibiotics.
  9. If medications, such as narcotics or chemotherapy, are causing the vomiting, changing the medication or dose may help.
  10. 0. Getting plenty of rest.

If the vomiting is severe and persistent, it’s important to seek medical treatment right away, as it can lead to dehydration.


One way to reduce the risk of vomiting in adults is to practice good hygiene, such as regularly washing your hands with soap and water to reduce the spread of germs. Additionally, eating a well-balanced diet that incorporates the necessary nutrients and avoiding overeating can help reduce the risk of vomiting. It is also important to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Finally, if an individual is feeling sick, it is important to take the necessary steps to manage their symptoms and consult with a doctor if necessary.

Gender differences?

Yes, there are gender-specific differences in the presentation and management of vomiting in adults. Women are more likely to experience nausea and vomiting than men, and women are also more likely to suffer from more severe vomiting than men. Additionally, women tend to experience more severe symptoms associated with vomiting, such as dizziness, faintness, and fatigue. Women also tend to report more psychological distress associated with vomiting than men. Men are more likely to experience a sudden onset of vomiting with no warning signs, while women tend to experience a gradual onset of symptoms. Finally, women are more likely to seek medical attention for vomiting than men, and may be more likely to respond to medical treatments when appropriate.


Nutrition plays an important role in the management of vomiting in adults. Proper nutrition can help prevent dehydration and other complications associated with vomiting. Eating small, frequent meals, as well as eating foods that are easy to digest and low in fat, can help minimize vomiting episodes. Additionally, it is important to avoid consuming foods that are more likely to induce vomiting such as spicy or greasy foods. Drinking plenty of fluids can also help to improve hydration and reduce vomiting episodes. Finally, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional to ensure that the vomiting is not caused by a more serious underlying condition.

Physical Activity

Physical activity can help to reduce feelings of nausea in adults and reduce the frequency of vomiting episodes. Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones and neurotransmitters that help to reduce stress and create a feeling of wellbeing. Regular physical activity also helps to regulate digestion, helping to reduce the likelihood of vomiting. Additionally, physical activity can help to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety, which can help reduce episodes of vomiting.

Further Reading

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/nauseaandvomiting.html
  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/8106-nausea–vomiting
  3. https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/nausea-and-vomiting
  4. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/vomiting-in-adults
  5. https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-nausea-vomiting
  6. https://www.gohealthuc.com/library/vomiting-causes
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/nausea-and-vomiting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *