Table of Contents
- What is Nausea and Vomiting
- Common Causes
- Why am I Feeling Sick to my Stomach
- When is it Safe to Throw Up
- Remedies You Should Never Use to Induce Emesis
- What Happens Inside Your Body When You Throw Up
- What You Should do After Vomiting
- What Must be Avoided After Vomiting
- How to Avoid Throwing Up
- Substances that Must be Never Vomited
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What is Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea can be described as an unpleasant feeling or urge to throw up.
Vomiting involves expelling stomach contents forcefully through the mouth.
Vomiting is often your body’s defensive method to remove harmful ingested substances.
Your abdominal muscles will contract powerfully to create the pressure that is necessary for throwing out the stomach contents.
Vomiting is one of the most dreaded feelings in the world.
Frequent vomiting can also make it hard for your body to get the nutrition it needs.
Remember that repeated vomiting can lead to dehydration, i.e., lack of essential minerals and vitamins your body needs.
If dehydration continues, it can quickly become a serious health concern.
Contact your doctor immediately if you cannot stop vomiting or you can’t take any fluids you need or even worse you’re vomiting for 24 hours or longer.
Excessive vomiting can also cause fatigue, which is why it is important that you do not drive or operate heavy machinery when you are tired.
Nausea and vomiting can be caused by:
- Using certain prescription medication (for example, chemotherapy)
- Gastrointestinal tract infections
- Bacterial toxins in food poisoning
- Motion sickness
- Alcohol abuse
- Inflammation of abdominal organs
- Intestinal blockage
- Migraine and other headaches
- Underlying brain and nervous system disorders
- Kidney failure
- Cyclic vomiting syndrome
- Disgusting smells
- Chemical toxins in the environment
- Fear or other strong emotional stimuli
- Eating disorders
Why am I Feeling Sick to my Stomach
Are you feeling sick after eating something recently?
Spoiled food can sometimes make you sick to your stomach, and you can feel better by throwing up, but you should do this only as a last resort.
You should also speak to your doctor if you’re suffering from food poisoning or have ingested noncorrosive substances, such as pills.
That sinking feeling in your stomach that tells you something isn’t right is the natural alarm your body uses to get rid of toxins and substances that make you sick.
Inducing vomiting is an effective way to feel better, but it should always be done with caution.
Simply put, throwing up in certain cases can cause more harm than good.
When is Throwing Up not a Good Idea?
As stated earlier, vomiting can sometimes put you and your health at risk.
What Substances Cannot be Eliminated by Vomiting?
- If you have ingested poison or corrosive chemicals
Such corrosive substances as bleach can damage your esophagus and airways if you try to vomit voluntarily.
There are a number of well-established reasons for this:
- Vomiting is not always effective for removing poisons completely from the stomach.
- Sometimes poison can go down the wrong way, i.e., your airways into the lungs, which can cause injury. This is especially true if you’re trying to expel chemicals that can cause froth, such as shampoos, soaps, detergents, and dish washing liquids. Some detergents can also cause burns, swelling, and inflammation in the esophagus and throat if you try to throw up forcefully.
- Products that are easily inhaled, for example, gasoline, kerosene, paint thinners, and solvent cannot be eliminated by vomiting. Furthermore, these chemicals could also injure your lungs, causing tears and burns in your esophagus, mouth, and throat.
- Young children should not be encouraged to vomit, as they could become drowsy.
- Some corrosive substances and poisons, such as detergents and bleach, can damage your throat lining and cause burns. Remember that vomiting can increase your chances of burning your throat twice.
- Forceful vomiting can trigger the re-absorption of poison and corrosive chemicals into your body more quickly and in larger amounts.
- The biggest threat of inducing vomiting is that vomiting can sometimes be very difficult to stop once it starts.
Numerous cases have been documented where inducing vomiting causes more harm than the poison itself.
- Solid and sharp objects, such as toys, rings, buttons, and coins, can get stuck in your airways as you try to throw them up. What’s worse is that these objects can cause injuries (cuts, inflammation) in your esophagus, mouth, and throat.
- You should never throw up to lose weight. Remember that bulimia and other eating disorders can develop if you try to throw up voluntarily, which can damage your health and well-being.
- Expecting mothers should never make themselves throw up, as this can cause severe dehydration and affect the unborn baby’s health.
When is it Safe to Throw Up
It is safe to vomit when spoiled or rotten food is making you sick.
You can also throw up instantly if you have ingested noncorrosive poisons, such as pills, or other drugs, such as heroin and cyanide.
Sometimes it is necessary to throw up when you know there’s something “bad” inside your body.
You need to identify the substance that is making you sick.
Is it rotten seafood or too much alcohol that is causing problems?
Vomiting can be helpful if you need instant relief from a bad meal or alcohol and drug problems, but before you decide to “self-induce” vomiting remember that this can turn serious and even cause injuries if not done correctly.
If you have swallowed something corrosive, you need to see a doctor first, and even if you’re feeling sick from a bad meal or after having too much alcohol, contact your poison control center and seek medical treatment.
If your doctor suggests it is safe to throw up, you can induce vomiting in a few simple steps.
How to Make Yourself Throw Up
- Use your index finger
- This might sound gross, but using your index finger is the fastest and most effective way to empty your stomach instantly.
- First, wash your hands and cut your nail (if necessary) to avoid injuring your throat.
- Tie your hair securely so that it won’t get in the way. Choose a place where you have to vomit, e.g., your toilet or a small clean bucket would be perfect.
- Now sit down securely on the floor or kneel in a way that you don’t exert pressure on your abdominal area. Remember that you should never put your stomach under extra pressure while vomiting.
- Insert your clean index finger slowly into your mouth, and move it toward the back of your throat. Press the finger firmly in the back of your throat to trigger the vomiting reflex. Be careful not to scratch or injure your throat.
- Once you feel you’re going to throw up soon, remove your finger and reach for the bucket. It is likely that you’ll throw up instantly. If you still feel nauseous, try throwing up again.
- Wash your hands when you are done, and rinse your mouth with plain water. You can also gargle to get rid of leftover stomach acid and poisonous contents.
- It is important that you don’t brush your teeth immediately after throwing up, as your enamel is quite sensitive to coming into contact with strong stomach acid.
- If the index finger method doesn’t work for you, you can try the following strategy.
Watch Someone Else Throw Up
Watching someone else throw up triggers the same reflex inside your body.
You can find and watch YouTube videos of people throwing up.
Remember, though, that these can be disgusting.
Furthermore, watching these videos might not work instantly, but they do work, and you should feel better after vomiting.
If you don’t want to use your index finger, you can use emetics to induce vomiting.
Emetics are common “over-the-counter” drugs that can trigger vomiting by initiating contractions in your stomach.
The most frequently used emetic is ipecac syrup.
Remember that ipecac syrup is highly controversial because it can be extremely toxic in high doses.
If you decide to use ipecac syrup, make sure you only drink small amounts and follow the instructions on the bottle.
You also need to drink at least eight to sixteen ounces of water after drinking ipecac syrup.
If you are unable to vomit, contact your doctor immediately.
- Ipecac syrup should not be taken if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.
- Ipecac syrup is not recommended for children under twelve years of age.
- Ipecac syrup can cause allergic reactions, drowsiness, and dizziness. If you notice any such symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Does Drinking Large Volumes of Fluid Dilute the Poison?
The amount and more importantly the “kind” of fluid the affected person can drink will depend on the type of substance they have swallowed.
You should not drink any fluids unless you first check with your doctor or poison control center.
You should remember that drinking fluids incorrectly can cause more vomiting.
What’s worse is that in some cases drinking too much fluid can cause some substances to produce froth, which further complicates the situation.
Milk should never be given without consulting a medical professional.
In some cases, milk can accelerate absorption of the chemical or medicine, such as menthol, into the body and increase chances of poisoning.
Fizzy drinks and fruit juices should never be given without a doctor’s advice, as they can further irritate the stomach’s lining and increase the risk of poisoning.
If your doctor tells you to drink water, then it’s okay to drink one-quarter to one-half a cup (in case of children) and one to two cups in case of adults.
You may be asked to keep up your fluid intake for twenty-four hours.
This practice is common in cases where the poison or toxic chemicals affect the kidneys.
Drinking more fluids will help the substance pass out of the body faster.
Remedies You Should Never Use to Induce Emesis
- A Supersaturated Saline Solution. Saline solution or salt water is an old remedy that has been used for centuries to induce vomiting. This method basically involves dissolving three tablespoons of sodium chloride or table salt in one glass of warm water. You need to drink the salt solution quickly and then wait for at least thirty minutes for the salty drink to take effect. Remember that the American Heart Association does not recommend consuming more than 1,500 mg of salt in a day, which is equivalent to roughly three-quarters of a tablespoon of salt. Three tablespoons of salt means you are actually consuming nine times the daily recommended amount of sodium. The high amount of sodium inside your body will create shocks and force your stomach to throw up, and drinking salt water can also create a medical emergency. When there’s too much sodium inside your body, your brain and neurons can be damaged permanently. The bottom line is that salt water can make you throw up, but the risks associated with it are too high.
- Mustard Solution. This method involves mixing one tablespoon of mustard spread in a glass of warm water. After stirring the mixture vigorously, the solution is consumed. It is thought to work similarly to the saline solution. The unpleasant taste of the solution would make a person throw up instantly, but it takes at least thirty minutes for the solution to take effect. No scientific evidence currently supports the effectiveness of mustard solution or guarantees its safety.
- Bloodroot Herb. Bloodroot is commonly used in Native American cultures to induce vomiting. While the ingredient is effective, it is toxic in high doses. Small amounts of herb powder is mixed with plain water, and consumed quickly to trigger nausea and vomiting. The herb is toxic and can lead to serious problems, such as tunnel vision or foot pain. Consuming bloodroot in large amounts can prove fatal, so it is best to contact a doctor before trying this method.
What Happens Inside Your Body When You Throw Up
Vomiting or throwing up has a number of physiological effects.
The complications can be severe if vomiting is recurring over a period of several hours or days.
- You lose large amounts of water. Excessive vomiting leads to excess loss of water and electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonates, and chloride. This imbalance in water and electrolyte concentration affects body function and can lead to severe medical complications. Low levels of chloride and loss of hydrogen ions can lead to increased blood pH. Another problem is that loss of electrolytes and dehydration makes it difficult to consume water and solid food, which further complicates the situation.
- Esophageal Rupture. Your esophagus will start burning when acidic stomach contents come into contact with the delicate esophageal lining. Perhaps the most serious side effect of vomiting is “esophageal tear or rupture.” Your esophagus can be damaged if you try to vomit violently or forcefully. This causes vomit, food, and even saliva to enter your chest cavity.
- Aspiration. Some vomit might even enter your airways and lungs, which can cause injuries, infection, and inflammation. Vomit contains gastric content, which is highly acidic in nature. Aspiration or leaking of vomit into the air passages, trachea, and lungs can cause choking as well as infection and inflammation. The condition can be life threatening if not treated early.
- Enamel Damage. Stomach acid can destroy the enamel of your teeth. Acidic stomach content and digestive enzymes can also damage your gums, which might lead to dental complications.
What You Should do After Vomiting
Vomiting does help remove something unnecessary, i.e., something toxic you ate, but it is also one of the most annoying feelings in the world.
Right after vomiting you should rinse your mouth with plain water to remove acidic content and protect your mouth, gums, and teeth, but you should never brush your teeth immediately, as your enamel can be eroded.
Instead, wait for at least thirty minutes before brushing your teeth.
You can also sip small amounts of plain water to re-hydrate your body.
Remember that you should never drink large amounts of water, as you could feel nauseous again.
What to Eat After Vomiting. While you won’t feel like eating or drinking after vomiting, here are some things that will make you feel better.
- Water and Plain Fluids. Plain water is good to consume after you throw up. Try to sip small amounts of plain water slowly to see if your digestive system can tolerate fluids. This will help you regain the water lost during vomiting. If you don’t want to drink plain water, try other low “calorie” fluids, such as clear chicken or beef broth or apple juice. These fluids can prepare your stomach to tolerate small amounts of solid foods. If you start to feel hungry, bananas can provide you with energy and, more importantly, lost potassium after vomiting.
- Bland Foods. When you feel that your stomach can handle solid foods, eat small amounts of bland foods, e.g., plain noodles, plain toast, or boiled potatoes. Remember that the food should be plain and free from such things as butter, sauces, cheeses, and greasy oils. You can also try eating small amounts of protein sources, such as plain baked turkey or boiled chicken. If you can’t stop vomiting, ask your doctor about prescription medications, such antihistamines and other anti-emetics.
What Must be Avoided After Vomiting
Now that you know what you should eat after vomiting, here’s a list of what you should avoid.
- Oil and salt. Salty and oily foods aren’t a good choice because they’ll make you feel nauseous. You should avoid deep fried meat, sauces, refined flour, and other canned and processed foods.
- Foods with a strong aroma. Smelly foods can trigger vomiting, so you should avoid eating them until you feel better.
- Caffeine, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages. Caffeine might irritate your stomach lining and cause further problems, while soda and other carbonated beverages can cause bloating.
- Spicy and raw foods. Spicy food can irritate your stomach and esophageal lining, and you may vomit even more.
- Raw foods can be difficult to digest, which would make you feel sick.
How to Avoid Throwing Up
Throwing up is never pleasant, and a number of helpful tricks can be used to keep you from throwing up again.
- Drink small amounts of plain water and clear liquids, such as cranberry juice, apple juice, and clear chicken broth.
- Drink slightly sweetened beverages, such as ginger ale.
- Place cold compresses (cold, damp cloth works too!) on your forehead, on the back of your neck, behind your knees, and inside your wrist.
- Ginger is an excellent antiemetic, and you can suck or chew ginger to stop feeling you need to vomit. You can also use sweetened ginger syrup or soothing ginger tea to calm the urge to vomit.*
- Rest with your head placed slightly higher than the rest of your body.
- Use chamomile or licorice root tea to calm the stomach and reduce the need to vomit.
- Change your eating habits if food is causing the problems. You can reduce the need to throw up by simply making healthier eating choices.
- Avoid raw, fried, spicy, greasy, salty, high-fat, and dairy foods.
- Aim for four to five smaller meals per day instead of three large ones.
For Ginger Tea
Crush ten to twelve thick slices of fresh ginger, and place them along with three cups of water in a large pot.
Once the mixture starts boiling, turn down the heat, and simmer for twenty to twenty-five minutes.
Collect the clear fluid, and add one tablespoon of honey. Serve warm.
Roughly chop fresh ginger and place two cups of ginger slices in a food processor.
Pulse until you get a smooth paste.
Now add two cups of sugar along with six cups of water to a large pot and toss in smoothly processed ginger.
Once the mixture boils, simmer for at least an hour until the fluid is reduced by two-thirds.
Strain the syrup using clean cheese cloth and sip small amounts of the cooled beverage.
Substances that Must be Never Vomited
- Don’t throw up if you ingested corrosive poison or acidic chemicals, such as bleach, gasoline, pesticides, and acid.
- Never try to induce vomiting after ingesting substances that can froth. Examples include soap, detergents, shampoos, and other cleaning solutions. Froth can enter your lungs when you try to throw up forcefully, causing lung injury, inflammation, swelling, and even burns.
- Solid or sharp objects, such as toys, coins, rings, and buttons, can injure the throat or get stuck in the airways; hence, these items should never be vomited.
- Gasoline, kerosene, and other flammable products, such as paint thinner, can cause tears and burns in your esophagus, mouth, and airways if you vomit.
If you have ingested any of the aforementioned substances, seek medical help or contact your poison control center immediately.
- You should never use vomiting as a weight-loss method.
- The best method to throw up is to use your own index finger. You can also watch other people vomiting to induce the “vomiting” reflex.
- Folk remedies, such as saline water, mustard water, or bloodroot, should be avoided, as they can cause harmful side effects.
Vomiting can cause dehydration and irritate your digestive tract, so make sure to take good care of your body after you’ve successfully managed to throw up substances that were causing problems in the first place.
Throwing up can help remove toxins and harmful substances you’ve ingested, but you should always do it after consulting your physician.