Characteristics of vomiting

This article was endorsed by Ikhsan Majid Ghani - Doctor of medicine from Universitas Gadjah Mada

What is vomiting?

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.

What is an antivomitive?

We call antivomitics or antiemetics those preparations that prevent or hinder the involuntary expulsion of food found in the stomach.

Symptoms of vomiting

The main symptoms showing the need of vomiting are:

  • Nausea
  • Increased salivation
  • Abdominal pressure
  • Retching
  • Sweating
  • 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.

Why is it bad to vomit?

Vomiting assumes that the contents of the stomach (chyme) are propelled by the esophagus from the stomach to the mouth. The stomach, besides to food, contains gastric juices (hydrochloric acid), which are very corrosive.

Vomiting problems

Vomiting, which is normally produced to avoid poisoning, after ingesting a poison, can have adverse effects. When the stomach contents are expelled into the mouth, injuries or health problems can occur, especially if done regularly or frequently.

Harmful effects of vomiting

Among the possible harmful effects of vomiting we have the following:

  • Injuries to the esophagus (esophagitis) caused by hydrochloric acid or by the corrosive substance that has been ingested if any have been ingested. When vomiting is very violent or repeated, rupture of the esophagus can occur.
  • Injuries to the stomach: Vomiting carries away part of the protection of the gastric mucosa, so irritation in the stomach (gastritis) or even ulcer can occur as the gastric mucosa becomes more defenseless against the action of gastric juices.
  • Injuries to the mouth, throat, teeth or gums: The expelled acid affects the throat, mouth and palate, causing more or less significant irritations. When vomiting is induced, rubbing fingers and nails with the throat can cause injury. Hydrochloric acid attacks tooth enamel and gums and can facilitate the appearance of cavities or gingivitis.
  • Fluid loss: Continued vomiting means water loss. When water levels drop too low, dehydration occurs. Dehydration can lead to kidney damage and increase the chance of developing kidney stones.
  • Loss of minerals: Vomiting involves the loss of minerals as important as potassium, sodium and magnesium. The loss of potassium can cause the appearance of arrhythmias or tachycardias. The loss of magnesium manifests itself in the form of muscle cramps or pain and the loss of sodium together with the loss of water is responsible for hypotension with possible manifestations of weakness or dizziness.
  • Injuries to the respiratory system: In patients with consciousness problems, aspiration of vomiting into the lungs can cause lung diseases such as bronchitis or pneumonia. This type of accident can easily occur in people who are under the influence of substances such as opium or alcohol or in people who are not conscious.

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 meet the doctor 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 without any 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)

More information about vomiting

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

1 July, 2020

Other interesting articles

This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.
"Botanical" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.

Botanical-online is an informative page that describes, among other topics, the traditional uses of plants from a therapeutic point of view. Their descriptions do not replace professional advice. Botanical-online is not responsible for self-medication and recommends consulting with the physician.