When to see a doctor for nausea and vomiting

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Signs that you can use self-service

If you are on the move (car, bus, train, boat, plane, etc.) and did not have any symptoms before traveling, nausea and vomiting may indicate motion sickness . Self-care is appropriate, as are over-the-counter motion sickness medications.

If you had nausea or diarrhea before vomiting, these are signs that your vomiting is most likely caused by a stomach problem . It can be a virus, like gastroenteritis, or bacteria, like E. coli or Salmonella. Although it recovers on its own in most cases, complications can develop in children and people with weak immune systems.

Food poisoning may be suspected if those who have dined with you in the past few hours also have symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. You may also have painful abdominal cramps and a low fever.

In most cases, food poisoning clears up with self-care, until dehydration or other symptoms develop, or cramps or fever progressively worsen.

Starting a new drug or treatment (such as chemotherapy) can cause nausea and vomiting. Self-help is usually appropriate if there are no other symptoms, but you should call your doctor to report your symptoms and get advice on whether to change your medications.

Signs like a missed menstrual cycle and new onset nausea and vomiting can indicate pregnancy-specific morning sickness . If you can get pregnant, take a pregnancy test. If you are pregnant, self-care is appropriate for morning sickness, but you should see your doctor for prenatal care.

Nausea and vomiting are common after drinking alcohol , as this can cause an upset stomach both when drinking and during a hangover . To feel better, take care of yourself.

Typical type of vomiting

Most vomiting begins with what you last ate. An orange color is expected if you vomit a few hours after eating, as the food you digest gives your vomit that tinge.

If you have repeatedly vomited, your vomit will often clear up as all food is thrown away and only digestive juices remain. These characteristics do not indicate serious causes, but neither do they exclude them.

Self-service strategies

If you have stomach problems or another milder cause of vomiting, lie down and do not attempt any physical activity while you are sick.

If you don't vomit in 15 to 20 minutes, you can try sips of a clear liquid (water or electrolyte drink like Gatorade or Pedialyte). Continue drinking clear liquids for at least six hours.

During active vomiting, it is best to avoid food and sip clear liquids. This will help prevent dehydration and reduce the risk of choking if you vomit.

Once you learn to drink clear liquids for six hours or more, you can switch to a bland diet. Once the risk of vomiting has decreased, continue to avoid spicy, fatty, salty, and strong-smelling foods until you can tolerate them well .

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