Nausea and Vomiting—Adult
Nausea is an uneasy feeling in the stomach that may make a person want to vomit. Vomiting is throwing up stomach contents through the mouth.
Many illnesses can cause nausea and vomiting, such as:
Serious problems that can cause nausea and vomiting are:
- Heart attack
- Kidney or liver disorders
- Nervous system disorders
- Cancer, including brain tumors
- Brain disorders
- Migraine headache
- Intestinal obstruction
Other causes may be:
The risk of this problem is higher in people who have a condition or disease that can cause nausea and vomiting.
Some people may have other symptoms in addition to nausea and vomiting, such as:
- Feeling very tired
- Vomiting blood
- Vomit that looks like coffee grounds
- Severe headache
- Severe diarrhea
- Stiff neck
- Rapid breathing or heartbeat
- Severe belly pain
- Lack of alertness
- Chest pain
You will be asked about your nausea and vomiting. You will also be asked about your health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests will be done. Some people may be given a pregnancy test.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
The doctor uses a hand-held instrument called a transducer, which uses sound waves to make images of your abdomen.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Any underlying causes will need to be treated. Most people are able to manage nausea and vomiting on their own. Some things that may help are:
Ways to Control Nausea
- Drink clear liquids like water, juice, or broth.
- Eat light foods that do not cause stomach upset.
- Eat and drink slowly.
- Eat smaller meals.
- Eat more often.
- Rest after eating.
- Eat foods from all the food groups. This will ensure proper nutrition.
Ways to Control Vomiting
- Rest as needed.
- Slowly drink larger amounts of clear liquids like water, juice, or broth.
- Do not eat solid foods until vomiting has passed.
- Do not stop taking medicine unless advised to do so.
Vomiting may cause dehydration. An oral rehydrating solution (ORS) can help.
There may be times when symptoms will need to be treated by a doctor. Medicine may be given to ease symptoms.
The risk of this problem may be lowered by:
- Eat small meals throughout the day.
- Eat slowly.
- Rest after eating.
- Drink liquids between meals, instead of during meals.
- Practice proper hand hygiene before eating, after using the bathroom, and after contact with people who are sick.
- Handle food properly.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Nausea and vomiting. American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at: https://gi.org/topics/nausea-and-vomiting. Accessed August 20, 2021.
Nausea and vomiting. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/symptom/nausea-and-vomiting. Accessed August 20, 2021.
Nausea and vomiting in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/nausea-and-vomiting-in-adults. Accessed August 20, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD Last Updated: 8/20/2021