When to Go to the ER for Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of routine illnesses. Excessive vomiting and nausea, however, can cause major complications. If you are experiencing any of the following in addition to nausea and vomiting, it may be time to visit your nearest emergency room:
- Vomiting 4+ times in one day without being able to keep down water or food
- Abdominal pain
- Inability to urinate
- Dry mouth
- Blood tinged or bleeding
- Dark vomit that looks like coffee grounds
- Feeling cold, clammy or sweaty
Nausea and Vomiting Underlying Causes
Excessive nausea and vomiting can be one of the first signs of severe medical conditions, including but not limited to the following:
- Digestive tract complications
- Food poisoning
- Cyclic vomiting syndrome
- Stomach flu
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Organ complications
- Intestinal obstruction
- Peptic ulcer
- Abdominal pain
- Head and neck complications
- Traumatic brain injury
- Ear infection
- Heart complications
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Morning sickness
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- Motion sickness
- Radiation therapy
- Severe pain
- And more
Challenges in Diagnosing Nausea and Vomiting
Everyone experiences nausea to different degrees, and every person’s body could have a different reaction to underlying problems. Because your nausea and vomiting could indicate very serious underlying conditions, a doctor and/or nurse will ask in-depth questions to make sure you get the right care, quickly:
- When did you start vomiting? How many times have you vomited since then?
- What was the most recent thing you had done before you began vomiting—eating, taking medicine, participating in sports, etc.?
- Do you vomit after eating, or on an empty stomach?
- Did other people who ate at the same place as you have the same symptoms?
- What’s different about this time compared to the last time you may have vomited? Do you have a fever, diarrhea, headaches, or other symptoms?
- Is there blood in your vomit?
- Are you vomiting anything that looks like coffee grounds?
- Are you vomiting undigested food?
- When was the last time you urinated?
- Have you been losing weight? Has your weight loss been part of a new diet or exercise, or is it unexpected weight loss?
- Have you been traveling? Where?
- What medications do you take?
- Are you pregnant or could you be pregnant?
- And more
Your physician will need to rule out life-threatening conditions before moving forward with treatment, so be as clear as you can. We realize that nausea and vomiting are exhausting, and we want to help you get better as soon as possible. Every question we ask is focused on giving you personalized treatment.
Treating Nausea and Vomiting at Home
If you’re not sure that your condition is bad enough to visit the ER, give us a call. You will speak to a member of our emergency staff who can give you accurate advice regarding your condition. We hope you don’t need us—but when you do, we’re ready.
These home remedies for nausea and vomiting can be useful in treating non-emergency conditions:
Nausea can occur when your body does not have enough liquid. Vomiting and diarrhea also expel a large amount of liquid that your body needs. If you are suffering from nausea and vomiting, sip slowly and regularly on clear liquids.
There are several types of drinks you may prefer, but it is recommended to avoid juices and soft drinks. The extra sugar or other properties in fruit juices and soft drinks may further irritate your condition. Water, sports drinks, and broths may provide some relief.
Your body is likely weak; you may be trembling after having thrown up. By laying down, you reduce your body’s need to burn energy and you allow blood to flow to the injured part of your body and start the healing process. If you are suffering from motion sickness, you can lay down and allow your body to feel stable.
If you are able to eat after throwing up, rest with your head slightly elevated.
If you are able to keep food down, there are some common foods you may try and see how you react. Plain foods without strong smells or flavors may help, including crackers and breads. If you deal with nausea regularly, like during pregnancy, then you will need to find vegetables and proteins that do not aggravate your nausea.
Foods to avoid include greasy foods, fried foods, and sweet foods. You may also be able to tell what types of foods are more likely to make you throw up.