Vomiting is the forceful emptying ("throwing up") of a large portion of the stomach's contents through the mouth. Strong stomach contractions against a closed stomach outlet result in vomiting.
Most vomiting is caused by a viral infection of the stomach or food poisoning from eating poorly refrigerated food. Usually, a person whose vomiting is caused by a virus also has diarrhea. If you have vomiting without diarrhea and it lasts more than 24 hours, you may have something more serious.
The vomiting usually stops in 6 to 24 hours. Changes in the diet usually speed recovery.
Drink only clear fluids (not milk) in small amounts until 8 hours have passed without vomiting. Water or ice chips seem to work best. Another option is half-strength, lemon-lime soda or Popsicles. Stir the soda until no fizz remains.
Start with 1 tablespoon of the clear fluid every 5 minutes. After 4 hours without vomiting, double the amount each hour. If you vomit using this treatment, rest your stomach completely for 1 hour and then start over. This one-swallow-at-a-time approach rarely fails.
After 8 hours without vomiting, you can gradually return to a normal diet. Start with such foods as saltine crackers, white bread, bland soups, rice, and mashed potatoes.
Usually you can be back on a normal diet within 24 hours after recovery from vomiting.
Do not take any medicines by mouth for 8 hours. Oral medicines can irritate the stomach and make vomiting worse. Call your healthcare provider if you need to continue taking a prescription medicine.
A common error is to drink a full glass of clear fluid rather than gradually increasing the amount. This almost always leads to continued vomiting.
There is no effective drug or suppository for vomiting. Diet is the best treatment. Vomiting alone rarely causes dehydration unless you take too much clear fluid.
Call IMMEDIATELY if:
Call during office hours if: