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Home » Severe Vomiting

“Seeking Relief from Severe Vomiting: Expert Insights and Treatment Approaches”














Severe vomiting, also known as hyperemesis, is a condition characterized by persistent and excessive vomiting that can lead to dehydration and other complications. It is a medical condition that requires attention and treatment. Although it can occur in various situations, including pregnancy and certain medical conditions, it is not a common occurrence in the general population. In the United States, severe vomiting affects a relatively small percentage of individuals. Severe vomiting can be divided into different phases, each characterized by specific symptoms and severity levels:
  • Prodromal phase: This initial phase often includes warning signs such as increased salivation, a feeling of uneasiness, or persistent nausea. These symptoms can precede the actual vomiting episodes and may serve as an early indication of impending severe vomiting.
  • Hyperemetic phase: This is the main phase of severe vomiting, where episodes of intense and frequent vomiting occur. The person may experience severe nausea and be unable to keep down any food or fluids. The vomiting can be forceful and may lead to dehydration, weight loss, electrolyte imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies.
  • Recovery phase: Once the underlying cause of severe vomiting is addressed or resolved, individuals may enter a recovery phase. During this phase, the frequency and severity of vomiting episodes gradually decrease, and the person may regain their ability to tolerate food and fluids. Proper rehydration and medical treatment play a crucial role in this phase to restore the person’s health.
what is severe vomiting


Severe vomiting is characterized by persistent and excessive episodes of vomiting that go beyond the normal range of occasional or mild vomiting. The symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause and the individual, but some common symptoms associated with severe vomiting include:
  • Frequent and forceful vomiting: Severe vomiting involves recurrent episodes of vomiting that can be intense and forceful. The person may vomit multiple times within a short period, and the vomiting can be difficult to control or stop.
  • Inability to keep food or fluids down: Individuals with severe vomiting often have difficulty keeping any food or fluids in their stomach. Even small sips of water or bites of food may trigger further vomiting.
  • Persistent nausea: Nausea is a common accompanying symptom of severe vomiting. The person may experience a constant feeling of queasiness or an urge to vomit.
  • Dehydration: Excessive vomiting can lead to excessive thirst, reduced urine output, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and lightheadedness.
  • Weight loss: Frequent and persistent vomiting can result in significant weight loss over time. This weight loss is often a consequence of the inability to consume and retain enough food and nutrients.
  • Electrolyte imbalances: Severe vomiting can disrupt the balance of electrolytes in the body, such as potassium and sodium. This can lead to symptoms like muscle weakness, fatigue, irregular heartbeats, and in severe cases, can even be life-threatening.
  • Fatigue and weakness: The continuous vomiting episodes and associated dehydration can leave the person feeling weak, tired, and physically drained.

Causes of Severe Vomiting

Severe vomiting can have various causes, ranging from temporary conditions to underlying medical issues. Some common causes include:
  • Pregnancy: Severe vomiting can occur during pregnancy and is known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
  • Gastroenteritis: It is an infection of the gastrointestinal tract that can cause severe vomiting along with diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. It is often caused by viruses or bacteria.
  • Medications and treatments: Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, opioids, and antibiotics, can cause severe vomiting as a side effect. Additionally, treatments like radiation therapy or anesthesia may trigger vomiting in some individuals.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: Conditions like gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and gallbladder disease can cause severe vomiting as a symptom.
  • Motion sickness: Some individuals are highly sensitive to motion and may experience severe vomiting when traveling by car, plane, or boat.
  • Food poisoning: Consuming contaminated food or water can lead to severe vomiting as the body attempts to rid itself of the toxins.
  • Migraine: Certain individuals may experience severe vomiting as a symptom of migraines, often accompanied by intense headaches and sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Inner ear disorders: Conditions affecting the inner ear, such as Meniere’s disease or vestibular neuritis, can cause severe dizziness and vomiting.
  • Psychological factors: Emotional stress, anxiety, or certain psychiatric disorders can trigger severe vomiting in some individuals.
  • Other medical conditions: Severe vomiting can also be associated with medical conditions such as kidney disease, pancreatitis, intestinal obstruction, thyroid disorders, and some types of cancers.

Diagnosis for Severe Vomiting

The diagnosis of severe vomiting involves a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional. The process may include the following steps:

  • Medical history: The healthcare provider will begin by taking a detailed medical history, including information about the duration, frequency, and severity of the vomiting episodes. They will also inquire about any associated symptoms, such as nausea, weight loss, or dehydration.
  • Physical examination: A physical examination will be conducted to assess the individual’s overall health and look for any signs or symptoms that may provide clues to the underlying cause of the severe vomiting.
  • Laboratory tests: Various laboratory tests may be ordered to evaluate the individual’s condition. These can include blood tests to assess electrolyte levels, kidney and liver function, thyroid function, and pregnancy tests if applicable.
  • Imaging studies: In some cases, imaging studies such as abdominal ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be recommended to visualize the gastrointestinal tract and identify any structural abnormalities or underlying causes.
  • Pregnancy assessment: If severe vomiting occurs in a pregnant woman, a thorough evaluation is important to differentiate it from hyperemesis gravidarum. This may include assessing the woman’s medical history, conducting a physical examination, and performing blood and urine tests.

The specific diagnostic approach will depend on the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and the healthcare provider’s clinical judgment. Prompt and accurate diagnosis is crucial to identify the underlying cause of severe vomiting and determine the appropriate treatment strategy.

diagnosis of severe vomiting

Treatment for Severe Vomiting

The treatment of severe vomiting aims to relieve symptoms, prevent complications, and address the underlying cause. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Fluid and Electrolyte Replacement: Rehydration is a crucial aspect of managing severe vomiting, especially if dehydration has occurred. Intravenous fluids may be administered to restore electrolyte balance and provide essential nutrients. In less severe cases, oral rehydration solutions or small frequent sips of clear fluids may be recommended.
  • Antiemetic Medications: Antiemetic medications are often prescribed to help reduce nausea and control vomiting. Examples include ondansetron, promethazine, or metoclopramide. The choice of medication depends on the underlying cause and the individual’s specific needs.
  • Nutritional Support: In cases where the person is unable to tolerate solid food, nutritional support may be necessary. This can involve consuming small, frequent meals or snacks that are easily digestible or receiving nutrition through a feeding tube or intravenously.
  • Medication Adjustments: If severe vomiting is a side effect of certain medications, the healthcare provider may consider adjusting the dosage, changing the medication, or exploring alternative treatment options.
  • Treatment of Underlying Conditions: If severe vomiting is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as gastritis or gallbladder disease, the treatment plan will focus on managing and treating that specific condition.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Making certain lifestyle modifications can help manage severe vomiting. These may include eating small, frequent meals, avoiding triggers or foods that worsen symptoms, practicing relaxation techniques to reduce stress, and adjusting daily activities to minimize motion sickness.
  • Hospitalization and Intravenous Support: In severe cases of vomiting, hospitalization may be required for close monitoring, intravenous fluid administration, and additional diagnostic tests or treatments.
Ongo care doctor wearing stethoscope pointing left hand

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Self Care

While severe vomiting often requires medical intervention, there are some self-care measures that can help manage the condition and provide relief. Here are some self-care strategies that may be helpful:
  • Hydration: It is important to stay hydrated to prevent dehydration. Sip small amounts of clear fluids such as water, electrolyte-rich drinks, or clear broth throughout the day. Avoid large volumes of fluid at once, as it may trigger vomiting.
  • Rest: Allow yourself plenty of rest and avoid overexertion. Fatigue can exacerbate symptoms, so prioritize restful activities and aim for adequate sleep.
  • Dietary Modifications: Adjust your diet to accommodate your vomiting episodes. Choose bland, easily digestible foods such as crackers, toast, rice, and boiled potatoes. Avoid spicy, fatty, or heavily seasoned foods that may trigger nausea.
  • Ginger: Ginger has been found to have antiemetic properties and can help alleviate nausea. You can try consuming ginger tea, ginger ale, ginger candies, or taking ginger supplements.
  • Avoid Triggers: Identify and avoid any triggers that worsen your vomiting episodes. These may include strong smells, certain foods, or stressful situations.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or guided imagery to help reduce stress and manage nausea. These techniques can be helpful in minimizing the severity of vomiting episodes.
  • Acupressure: Some individuals find relief from nausea and vomiting by applying pressure to certain acupressure points, such as the wrist (P6 or Nei Guan point). Acupressure wristbands designed to apply pressure to these points can also be used.
  • Seek Support: Dealing with severe vomiting can be physically and emotionally challenging. Reach out to your healthcare provider, friends, or family for support. Joining support groups or online forums with individuals who have experienced similar symptoms can provide helpful advice and a sense of community.


Preventing severe vomiting involves addressing the underlying causes and implementing strategies to reduce the risk of recurrent episodes. While not all causes can be prevented, here are some general prevention strategies:

Pregnancy-related vomiting (Hyperemesis gravidarum):

  • Stay well-hydrated by drinking small amounts of fluids frequently.
  • Eat small, frequent meals that are easily digestible.
  • Avoid triggers such as strong odors or certain foods that worsen symptoms.
  • Consider vitamin B6 supplementation under medical guidance.
  • Discuss potential preventive medications with your healthcare provider if previous pregnancies were affected by hyperemesis gravidarum.

Motion sickness:

  • Avoid situations that trigger motion sickness, such as reading in a moving vehicle or sitting in the backseat.
  • Focus on a stable point in the distance or the horizon.
  • Consider over-the-counter motion sickness medications, such as dimenhydrinate or meclizine, before traveling.

Gastroenteritis and food poisoning:

  • Practice good hand hygiene, especially before handling food or eating.
  • Ensure proper food preparation and storage to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination.
  • Be cautious when consuming raw or undercooked foods, particularly seafood, eggs, and meats.

Medication-related vomiting:

  • Communicate with your healthcare provider about any previous experiences of medication-induced vomiting.
  • Discuss alternative medications or adjustments to dosage if vomiting is a known side effect.
  • Take medications with food, as directed, to minimize stomach irritation.

Manage stress and anxiety:

  • Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as regular exercise, meditation, or engaging in hobbies.
  • Seek counseling or therapy if stress or anxiety contribute to vomiting episodes.

Address underlying medical conditions:

  • Follow the prescribed treatment plan for underlying gastrointestinal disorders, migraines, inner ear disorders, or other medical conditions that can lead to severe vomiting.
Preventing FROM severe vomiting

When to See a Doctor

It is important to seek medical attention if you experience severe vomiting or if you notice any warning signs or complications associated with vomiting. Here are some warning signs that indicate the need to see a doctor:
  • Dehydration: Signs of dehydration include excessive thirst, dry mouth, dark-colored urine, reduced urine output, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, or feeling faint.
  • Inability to keep fluids down: If you are unable to keep even small sips of fluids down and are experiencing persistent vomiting, it is important to seek medical attention.
  • Weight loss: Significant and unexplained weight loss associated with severe vomiting should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
  • Blood in vomit: If you notice blood or material that looks like coffee grounds in your vomit, it could indicate bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, which requires immediate medical attention.
  • Severe abdominal pain: Intense or worsening abdominal pain that accompanies severe vomiting should not be ignored and should prompt medical evaluation.
  • Signs of electrolyte imbalance: Symptoms such as muscle weakness, muscle cramps, irregular heartbeats, or changes in mental status may indicate an imbalance in electrolytes, which should be assessed by a healthcare professional.
  • Fever: If you have a high-grade fever (above 101°F or 38.3°C) along with severe vomiting, it could be a sign of an underlying infection that requires medical attention.
  • Prolonged duration or worsening symptoms: If your vomiting episodes persist for an extended period or if the severity of symptoms increases despite self-care measures, it is advisable to consult with a doctor.
  • Associated symptoms: If severe vomiting is accompanied by severe headache, neck stiffness, vision changes, confusion, or other concerning symptoms, it may indicate a more serious condition that warrants immediate medical evaluation.

Ongo Care Team

Ongo Care is a telemedicine platform that can provide valuable assistance for individuals experiencing severe vomiting. Here’s how Ongo Care’s services can help:

  • Convenient access to healthcare professionals: Ongo Care allows you to connect with qualified healthcare professionals remotely, providing convenient access to medical advice and guidance without the need for in-person visits.
  • Evaluation and diagnosis: Through Ongo Care, you can have a virtual consultation with a healthcare professional who can evaluate your symptoms, medical history, and any accompanying signs to help diagnose the underlying cause.
  • Treatment recommendations: Based on the assessment, the healthcare professional can provide treatment recommendations tailored to your specific situation.
  • Monitoring and follow-up: Ongo Care enables healthcare professionals to monitor your progress and provide ongoing support.
  • Medical records and history: Ongo Care maintains secure electronic medical records, allowing healthcare professionals to access your medical history and previous consultations easily.

Overall, Ongo Care’s telemedicine platform offers a convenient and efficient way to access healthcare services, receive timely evaluation and treatment recommendations, and benefit from ongoing support for managing severe vomiting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can severe vomiting be a sign of a serious medical condition?
Yes, severe vomiting can be a symptom of various serious medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders, infections, kidney or liver problems, or even certain cancers.
How long is too long to experience severe vomiting?
If severe vomiting persists for more than 24 hours or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as dehydration, weight loss, or severe abdominal pain, it is advisable to seek medical attention.
Can I manage severe vomiting at home?
While self-care measures can help manage mild cases of vomiting, severe vomiting often requires medical intervention. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and to monitor for any complications.
When should I seek emergency medical care for severe vomiting?
Emergency medical care should be sought if severe vomiting is accompanied by warning signs such as blood in vomit, high-grade fever, severe abdominal pain, signs of dehydration, or changes in mental status.