Symptom: Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms that can be caused by numerous conditions. Nausea and vomiting most often are due to viral gastroenteritis — often mistakenly termed "stomach flu" — or the morning sickness of early pregnancy.

Many medications can cause nausea and vomiting, as can general anesthesia for surgery. Rarely, nausea and vomiting may indicate a serious or even life-threatening problem.

Nausea and vomiting
  1. Chemotherapy
  2. Gastroparesis (a condition in which the muscles of the stomach wall don't function properly, interfering with digestion)
  3. General anesthesia
  4. Intestinal obstruction
  5. Migraine
  6. Morning sickness
  7. Motion sickness: First aid
  8. Rotavirus
  9. Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
  10. Vestibular neuritis

Other possible causes of nausea and vomiting include:

  1. Alcoholism
  2. Anaphylaxis (in children)
  3. Anorexia nervosa
  4. Appendicitis
  5. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  6. (both cancerous and noncancerous)
  7. Bulimia nervosa
  8. Concussion
  9. Cholecystitis
  10. Crohn's disease
  11. Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  12. Depression
  13. Dizziness
  14. Diabetic ketoacidosis
  15. Ear infection (middle ear)
  16. Food poisoning
  17. Generalized anxiety disorder
  18. GERD — Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  19. Heart attack
  20. Heart failure
  21. Hepatitis
  22. High fever (in children)
  23. Hydrocephalus (a congenital brain abnormality)
  24. Hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid)
  25. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  26. Hypoparathyroidism (underactive parathyroid)
  27. Intestinal ischemia
  28. Intestinal obstruction
  29. Intracranial hematoma
  30. Intussusception (in children)
  31. Irritable bowel syndrome
  32. Liver cancer
  33. Liver failure
  34. Medications (including aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, oral contraceptives, digitalis, narcotics and antibiotics)
  35. Meniere's disease
  36. Meningitis
  37. Milk allergy (in infants and children)
  38. Pancreatic cancer
  39. Pancreatitis
  40. Peptic ulcer
  41. Pseudotumor cerebri
  42. Pyloric stenosis (in infants)
  43. Radiation therapy
  44. Severe pain
  45. Traumatic brain injury

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.


  • Chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • High fever and stiff neck
  • Fecal material or fecal odor in the vomit

Ask someone to drive you to urgent care or an emergency room if:

  • Nausea and vomiting are accompanied by pain or a severe headache, especially if you haven't had this type of headache before
  • You're unable to eat or drink for 12 hours or your child hasn't been able to keep liquids down for eight hours
  • You have signs or symptoms of dehydration — excessive thirst, dry mouth, infrequent urination, dark-colored urine and weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness upon standing
  • Your vomit contains blood, resembles coffee grounds or is green

Make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • Vomiting lasts more than two days for adults, 24 hours for children under age 2 or 12 hours for infants
  • You've had bouts of nausea and vomiting for longer than one month
  • You've experienced unexplained weight loss along with nausea and vomiting

Take self-care measures while you wait for your appointment with your doctor:

  • Take it easy. Too much activity and not getting enough rest might make nausea worse.
  • Stay hydrated. Take small sips of cold, clear, carbonated or sour drinks, such as ginger ale, lemonade and water. Mint tea also may help.
  • Avoid strong odors and other triggers. Food and cooking smells, perfume, smoke, stuffy rooms, heat, humidity, flickering lights, and driving are among the possible triggers of nausea and vomiting.
  • Eat bland foods. Start with easily digested foods such as gelatin, crackers and toast. When you can keep these down, try cereal, rice, fruit, and salty or high-protein, high-carbohydrate foods. Avoid fatty or spicy foods. Wait to eat solid foods until about six hours after the last time you vomited.
  • Use over-the-counter (OTC) motion sickness medicines. If you're planning a trip, OTC motion sickness drugs, such as Dramamine or Rugby Travel Sickness, may help calm your queasy stomach. For longer journeys, such as a cruise, ask your doctor about prescription motion sickness adhesive patches, such as scopolamine (Transderm Scop).

If your queasiness stems from pregnancy, try nibbling on some crackers before you get out of bed in the morning.


Signs and Symptoms

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