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Not only is vomiting uncomfortable, but it can also lead to dehydration and changes in the body’s electrolytes. Vomiting can be an especially concerning symptom in children and older adults.
In this article, we look at some home remedies to help alleviate nausea and vomiting.
Nausea and vomiting can be symptoms of a range of conditions, some acute and some due to underlying medical causes.
Examples of these causes include:
- blocked intestine
- brain injury
- food poisoning
- infection, such as from bacteria or virus
- motion sickness
- side effects of medications
- ingesting certain toxins, such as alcohol
Each of these contributes to chemical changes that irritate the brain.
The brain has several different receptors that can trigger vomiting in the chemoreceptor trigger zone (CTZ). There is also an area known as the “vomiting center,” where the brain detects toxins and can signal vomiting as a result.
In cases of food poisoning or infection, vomiting is often the body’s way of ridding itself of harmful substances.
However, there are steps a person can take to reduce the feelings of nausea and stomach discomfort that often accompany vomiting. These include:
- Drinking 1 to 2 ounces of clear liquids about 30 minutes after the last vomiting episode occurred. Examples of possible fluids include water, broth, or herbal tea.
- Avoiding alcohol and carbonated beverages when vomiting, as they will only worsen nausea and lead to further dehydration.
- Sucking on hard candies, such as lemon drops or mints, to eliminate unpleasant tastes.
- Drinking a ginger tea, ginger ale, or sucking on hard ginger candies. Ginger has antinausea properties that can help a person feel better.
- Using aromatherapy, or smelling certain scents, may reduce the incidence of nausea. Scents that have antinausea properties include lavender, chamomile, lemon oil, peppermint, rose, and clove.
- Using acupressure to relieve nausea. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, applying pressure to point P-6 (on the inner wrist, below the index finger) can help to relieve nausea.
Getting plenty of rest is also an important step for giving the body time it needs to heal after a vomiting episode.
Preventing dehydration is an important goal when a child is vomiting. However, they may not always want to drink fluids, so there are creative ways to help them take in fluids.
- Make ice pops or ice cubes from oral rehydration solutions or drinks containing electrolytes.
- Give a child gelatin as an alternative to liquids. They may tolerate it better or be more likely to eat it.
- Dilute fruit juice with water. Dilution reduces the amount of sugar in the juice that can worsen diarrhea that sometimes accompanies vomiting.
- Give a child rehydration fluids 30 to 60 minutes after they have vomited to reduce the likelihood the child will immediately vomit again. Start with a small amount to make sure the child will tolerate it.
- Provide bland foods to the child one they have not vomited for about 8 hours and kept fluids down. Examples include crackers, toast, bland soups, bananas, and mashed potatoes. These foods can help fill and settle the stomach.
Treating children who are vomiting can be difficult because they are not always able to express what they are feeling. Providing small amounts of hydrating solutions at a time can help.
Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body, which can be one of the causes associated with a hangover.
Alcohol can also irritate the stomach lining, increasing stomach acid and slowing down digestion.
As a result, a person can experience irritation that leads to nausea and vomiting.
If a person experiences alcohol-related vomiting, they can reduce their symptoms by:
- Drinking fluids. Taking small sips of water or drinks containing electrolytes can help to reduce dehydration caused by vomiting.
- Take a non-acetaminophen pain reliever. Acetaminophen can be harmful to the liver, which alcohol has already stressed. Taking ibuprofen as directed is a better choice for reducing aches and pains associated with vomiting. However, ibuprofen can irritate the stomach in some people, so people should take it with care. Also, ibuprofen can affect the kidneys, which may already be affected by dehydration.
- Take 1,200 milligrams of vitamin B6. According to some sources taking vitamin B6 can help to reduce hangover symptoms, particularly if a person has it before, during, and after drinking.
Eating small bites of toast and drinking sips of juice, coffee, or tea can help a person regain some energy and keep nausea at bay. Be careful with caffeinated drinks, though, because they can lead to further dehydration.
A person should also wait about 30 minutes after their last vomiting episode before eating to reduce the likelihood they will vomit again.
While a person will, unfortunately, experience nausea and vomiting more than once in their lifetime, it can be difficult to know when a person should seek treatment.
Instances when an adult should see a doctor include:
- vomiting that lasts more than one week
- if there is a possibility of pregnancy
- if home remedies do not relieve the vomiting
- if a person has signs of severe dehydration, such as extreme thirst, dark-colored urine, very little urine, and dizziness
- if a person is experiencing vomiting after a head injury
- vomiting blood or vomit that looks like “coffee grounds,” which is often dried or old blood
Infants and children are not able to express the symptoms of dehydration as well as adults, so parents should be aware of symptoms that may require medical attention.
- diarrhea and vomiting that lasts more than 24 hours and is not improving
- fever higher than 104°F if the child is older than 2 years; fever higher than 100.4°F in a child younger than 2 years
- blood in the stool or vomit
- a swollen stomach or signs of bad belly pain
- dark urine or no urine produced for 8 hours
- inability to produce tears when crying, a dry mouth, and sunken eyes
- cannot be soothed and continues to fuss
If a parent has any concerns about the symptoms their child is experiencing, they should seek medical treatment.
A doctor may recommend rehydrating with intravenous fluids and prescribe antinausea medications.
The home remedies listed in this article are available for purchase online.