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Nausea and vomiting - adults

Definition

Nausea is feeling an urge to vomit. It is often called "being sick to your stomach."

Vomiting or throwing-up is forcing the contents of the stomach up through the esophagus and out of the mouth.

Alternative Names

Emesis; Vomiting; Stomach upset; Upset stomach

Causes

Many common problems may cause nausea and vomiting, including:

Nausea and vomiting may also be early warning signs of more serious medical problems, such as:

Home Care

Once you and your doctor find the cause, you will want to know how to treat your nausea or vomiting. You may need to take medicine, change your diet, or try other things to make you feel better.

It is very important to keep enough fluids in your body. Try drinking frequent, small amounts of clear liquids.

If you have morning sickness during pregnancy, ask your doctor about possible treatments.

The following may help treat motion sickness:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 or go to an emergency room if:

Call a health care provider right away or seek medical care if you or another person has:

Signs of dehydration include:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam, and will look for signs of dehydration.

Your health care provider will ask questions about your symptoms, such as:

Other questions you may be asked include:

The diagnostic tests may be performed:

Depending on the cause and how much extra fluids you need, you may have to stay in the hospital or clinic for a period of time. You may need fluids given through your veins (intravenous or IV).

References

Malagelada J-R, Malagelada C. Nausea and vomiting. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 14.

Mcquaid K. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 134.


Review Date: 10/13/2013
Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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