Vomiting: Why It Happens and What To Do

Gastric churning, oral salivating, and stomach rolling unfortunately, we all know these queasy feelings of oncoming vomiting. Childhood has taught us this uncomfortable sensation, and the early days of pregnancy reinforce the knowledge. However, some may wonder if vomiting can be prevented? Or ask how should you cope with vomiting when it does happen? This article will address those questions and more.

Key takeaways:

Causes of vomiting

This violent reversal of food and fluids in the digestive tract is often the body’s way of removing perceived poisons from the body. Some causes of vomiting are:

  • Gastroenteritis. Also known as the stomach bug.
  • Food poisoning. It's normally caused from improperly prepared food.
  • Overindulgence. Often of alcohol or marijuana.
  • Medications. Often happens during chemotherapy.

An immune response is sensed by the medulla and/or vagal nerve in the brain. The brain then sends a message to the digestive system to urgently expel the perceived toxins. The digestive system is then triggered by the nervous system, and an automatic reflex occurs.

Ways to prevent vomiting

Though preventing vomiting over a lifetime may be an overly ambitious goal, implementing certain preventive measures can definitely diminish the number of episodes.

  • Hand washing. Though washing your hands may seem like a basic practice, it is often incorrectly done or not performed at all. Hand washing is the most important step in preventing gastroenteritis and other illnesses. According to the CDC, one in three gastric illnesses and one in five respiratory infections can be prevented by regular hand washing for at least 20 seconds.
  • Probiotics. The digestive system depends on bacteria. Did you know there are good bacteria and bad bacteria, and the body can decipher the difference? To prevent gastric upset, many have found taking a probiotic capsule helps. Today in our society, we often do not ingest enough healthy bacteria. Consuming foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics can also help restore and maintain gastric health.
  • Fluid intake. Water is a vital nutrient for cellular health. Since water is the universal solvent, it has the amazing ability to dissolve things, even within our bodies. Water helps flush waste and toxins. Therefore, adequate water consumption is helpful in preventing vomiting and dehydration.
  • Ginger and acupressure wrist bands. When nausea is near or motion sickness impending, ginger capsules and acupressure wrist bands have shown to provide relief from nausea and prevention of vomiting.

What to eat when feeling sick?

The inevitable has happened. You have the stomach bug. Now what? There is no need to panic.

Though you may not feel like it, it is important to take in extra fluids. Your body can go without food longer than water. This may require you to take small, frequent sips or eat small, frequent meals. Some ideas to maintain fluid intake while sick are as follows.

All these suggestions promote fluid balance while also helping decrease nausea, electrolyte imbalances, or dehydration. Whether you are an adult, pregnant woman, child, or teen, the mission is the same when sick. Drink your water. Maintain adequate fluid consumption. Prevent dehydration. Beware: Caffeinated drinks are diuretics, so they promote urination and should be avoided.

If able to tolerate solid foods, crackers, bread, or other bland foods can be eaten in small amounts and at frequent intervals.

Though vomiting is a dreaded sensation, most of the time vomiting and diarrhea is relieved within 24 hours. If not, be sure to drink extra fluids and talk to your medical provider. Dehydration can quickly and negatively affect people suffering from prolonged vomiting or diarrhea.

How to restore gut health

Many of the things used to prevent gastric upset are also helpful in restoring gut health. Prebiotic and probiotic rich foods are helpful in replacing the good bacteria that was killed or expelled during the vomiting episodes. Some foods rich in prebiotic and probiotics are as follows.

  • Yogurt. This is the most commonly consumed food rich in probiotics, most likely due to its creamy texture and yummy flavor. However, be sure to read the labels. Not all yogurts are created equal. Look for yogurts high in probiotics.
  • Kombucha. This is a fermented tea and juice drink that has a tangy taste and bubbly feel. Some people have replaced their daily soda with this nutrient rich, probiotic drink. It’s a win-win…bubbly drink and healthy tummy.
  • Vegetable and bone broths. These are thought to reduce inflammation in the gut, boost the immune system, and provide restorative amino acids. Broth can be purchased from your local grocery store or easily made at home.

Though yogurt seems to be the probiotic food of choice for children, adults and those managing diabetes will need to be aware of the high sugar content. Kombucha and broth are both low in sugar and may be the preferred food for these individuals.

Though vomiting is many people’s most dreaded symptom of sickness, it normally lasts only 24 hours or less, and preventive measures are possible. Thankfully, certain foods help prevent and restore gut health. During bouts of vomiting, adequate fluid intake is the greatest priority.

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