1. Common Health Problems

Vomiting & Nausea

“My roommate was real sick. She was throwing up and was real embarrassed because we had a community bathroom. It was pretty gross. But I told her we all get sick.”

– Tala E., University of Michigan

Signs & Symptoms

  1. Vomiting is throwing up the stomach’s contents. Dry heaves may precede or follow vomiting.

  2. Nausea is feeling like you’re going to vomit.


  1. Viruses in the intestines.

  2. Some medications, such as certain antibiotics.

  3. Eating too much or eating spoiled food.

  4. Drinking too much (e.g., alcohol).

  5. Motion sickness.

  6. Morning sickness in pregnant females.

Medical conditions that cause vomiting include: Labyrinthitis (inflammation of an area in the ear that usually results from an upper respiratory infection); stomach ulcers; hepatitis; meningitis; and a concussion from a head injury. For example, after falling from a loft, dry heaves or vomiting could be a sign of a concussion.

{Note: Nausea and vomiting can be signs of having a date rape drug.}


Treatment for nausea and/or vomiting depends on the cause.


For Vomiting

  1. Don’t eat solid foods, drink milk or alcohol, smoke, or take aspirin.

  2. Drink clear liquids (water, sport drinks, flat cola and ginger ale, etc.). Take small sips. Drink 1 to 2 ounces at a time, but drink often. Suck on ice chips if nothing else will stay down.

  3. Gradually return to a regular diet, but wait about 8 hours from the last time you vomited. Start with foods that are easy to digest like crackers.

For Nausea Without Vomiting

  1. Drink clear liquids. Eat small amounts of dry foods, such as soda crackers (if tolerated).

  2. Avoid things that irritate the stomach, such as alcohol, aspirin, spicy and fried foods.

  3. For motion sickness, use an over-the-counter antinausea medicine, such as Dramamine. Or use Sea-Bands, a wrist band product that uses acupressure on a certain point on the wrist.

Besides vomiting, do you have signs and symptoms of meningitis?

Questions to Ask

After a recent case of the flu or chicken pox with sudden, repeated vomiting, are other signs of Reye’s Syndrome present?

Do dry heaves and/or vomiting occur after a recent head injury or do you vomit true, red blood?

With vomiting, are any signs of alcohol poisoning present?

After repeated vomiting, do you have signs of dehydration?

With vomiting, do you have symptoms of an acute kidney infection?

With nausea or vomiting, do the whites of your eyes or does your skin look yellow?

With nausea or vomiting, do you have symptoms of a bladder infection?

Do you have stomach pain that lasts for more than 2 hours, interferes with your activities, and keeps hurting after you vomited?

Do you induce vomiting after overeating or to lose weight?

Are you taking medicines that don’t work if you vomit (e.g., asthma medicines)?