Vomiting is the involuntary expulsion of the stomach contents through the mouth or the nose.
It is preceded by nausea, that is the sensation someone feels of an eminent vomiting, although nausea does not always imply the factual vomit.
Symptoms of vomiting
The main symptoms showing the need of vomiting are :
- increased salivation
- abdominal pressure
- heart rate increase, etc.
Causes of vomiting
Causes producing vomiting can be very diverse. Among all them, the main ones are:
- Overeating or inadequate eating : They are the main reason that induce this involuntary reflex. In most of the cases, overeating is the main reason.
The stomach is too full to be able to digest all its contests, so it tries to expel them out. Sometimes the nature of the food ingested can be responsible : indigestible, too hot or spicy food can irritate the stomach.
The stomach has to make an effort to digest food, so it is very important no to stress it to much after eating. People need to relax for a time after having meals. Too much physical or mental effort, or even stressful situations, mainly after a meal, can produce nausea feeling or vomiting. All the same, a stroke on the stomach, especially being full, can bring about similar results.
- Poisonous or toxic substances ingestion: Ingesting poisonous plants or animals, or toxic substances leads to stomach irritation and subsequently to vomiting. Some medicinal plants can be vomitive when the usual doses is incremented. For example, a camomile infusion is a very well-known home remedy to avoid vomiting (anti emetic property) however, when very load doses of this herb are used to prepare the infusion, it attains an opposite effect, being vomitive (emetic property)
Some drugs possess similar properties (peyote, ayahuasca, morphine, etc). Vomiting is one of the possible symptoms of hangover resulting from ingesting too much alcoholic beverages. Smoking tobacco can induce to vomiting to people who are not used to it. A lot of medicines present vomiting as a usual side effect.
- Eating disorders: Some anomalies are responsible for vomiting either because an involuntary reaction of body to the food ingestion or because someone voluntarily decides to provoke vomiting. The main disorders included in this chapter are anorexia and bulimia.
- Digestive diseases: Apart from too copious or inappropriate meals, some other digestive disorders can result in the same effect such as gastritis, gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, peritonitis, appendicitis, obstruction of the bowels, lactose intolerance, etc.
- Brain disorders: Some brain anomalies can be the cause that produces vomiting since they act on the part of the brain that coordinates vomiting, sending a signal to the stomach which reacts vomiting. Among all them, we can point out head traumas, prolonged headache (migraine) , a tumor in the brain, brain hemorrhages, etc.
- Sensory system disorders: They are disorders affecting the sensory system such as those concerning the system that control people's movement. Motion sickness is a common disorder altering many people when traveling by airplane (airsickness) , by car and, specially, by ship or boat (seasickness).
People showing this condition often manifest it by means of nausea that can end up in real vomiting. Similar symptoms can appear in children or people taking part in some leisure forms that imply quick movements, such as roundabouts or ferris wheels or those that can easily alter the sense of balance, such car, flight or space simulators.
A more modern induced form of motion sickness is called " simulation sickness" , which comes from playing simulated movements on the video or computer.
- Metabolic disorders: Some other metabolic disorders also generate the same reaction by affecting both the brain and the stomach: diabetes, hypoglycemia, too high calcium levels (Hypercalcemia), excess of acid uric (uremia), etc.
Some treatments or medical interventions , such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, anesthesia drugs could also be included here.
- Other body diseases: Besides digestive, metabolic and brain ailments, Some other diseases, not distressing the stomach or brain, can yield to similar results: heart attack, asthma, violent coughing, headache, nervousness, etc.
- Pregnancy : Morning sickness is a normal condition of pregnant women, which produces nausea that can end up in actual vomiting., even in an state of usual " excessive vomiting" (hyperemesis)
- Some disagreeable situations: Witnessing or experiencing nasty things can trigger vomiting, such as viewing someone vomiting, someone eating or touching some nauseating or repugnant thing. Similar reactions can occurs in case of violent emotions.
Consequences of vomiting
Vomiting can be considered necessary in those cases where we need to expel noxious substances from the stomach. In other occasions , vomiting can also be provoked to avoid a poisonous substance to be absorbed before arriving to the intestine.
This is the reason why doctor administer emetics (substances that provoke vomiting) to people that have eaten something that can harm their body. (More information about how to provoke vomiting in the listing above)
Vomiting is socially considered very disturbing. People do not like seeing another people vomiting. Vomiting contents are usually very foul-smelling and vomiting sounds are though to be disgusting. As a result of all this, people tend to vomit alone in closed places, such as toilets. Some investigators think all the negative connotations with the vomiting act respond to a defensive reaction against possible harmful substances.
However, besides being socially or culturally unacceptable, in most cases, vomiting must be refrained, specially when habitual vomiting is involved. We must avoid regular vomiting to prevent:
- Losing water and nutrients: Vomiting implies expelling water and nutrients. Water lost can be very important in case of persistent vomiting. This can be the reason for dehydration.
- Inhaling the vomits: This could be very dangerous because we could easily choke or we could aspirate noxious substances into the lungs. Some pneumonitis or pneumonia processes are produced because of this reason.
- Eroding the esophagus: Vomiting contest are very acid because of the stomach acids. Repetitive vomiting can erode the esophagus mucosa and may derive into a permanent laceration (Mallory-Weiss syndrome)
- causing teeth decay: Continuous vomiting may be responsible for toot decay, as a result of stomach acids eroding tooth enamel and gum tissues.
Diagnosis and treatment of vomiting
Most probably, vomiting is necessary for the stomach to get rid of some undesired food, so, in this case, vomiting process should not be stopped.
The following situations must be medically attended as soon as possible:
- Bloody or continuous vomiting. If it does not stop, don't wait more than 24 hours to visit your doctor. Bloody vomiting requites immediate intervention.
- Vomiting is produced by no apparent reason.
- You are not able to ingest any type of food, solid or liquid.
- If you are to thirsty, your urine production is to low and you get dizzy when getting up. (this could be symptoms of dehydration)
must be diagnosed and treated properly by a health professional. Treating the causes that provoke vomiting usually can solve the problem.
The usual treatment of vomiting implies the use of anti emetics or vomitives when the doctor consider them to be necessary
The natural treatment of vomiting involves using a series of natural resources that can stop it (vomitives) or can provoke it (emetics)