UT University Health Services

Nausea and Vomiting

Common causes of nausea and vomiting are viral infections (the "stomach flu"), drinking too much alcohol, bacterial infections (including food poisoning), motion sickness, and intolerance to certain foods or medications. Other health conditions - some minor and some serious - can also cause nausea/vomiting. These include inner ear problems, pregnancy, stress, sinus drainage, migraine headaches, and increased pressure on the brain due to head trauma or meningitis.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Feeling like you are going to vomit
  • Vomiting the contents of your stomach
  • Dry heaving (Vomiting with an empty stomach)

Self-Care

  • For motion sickness... take an over-the-counter anti-motion sickness medication.
If you are nauseated but not vomiting:
  • Eat small amounts of dry foods like toast or plain crackers.
  • Sip clear liquids.
If you are vomiting:
  • Stop eating solid food.
  • Every hour for 12 to 24 hours, drink four to eight total ounces of clear, non-caffeinated liquids such as water, sports drinks, broth/bouillion, diluted fruit juice, or flat ginger ale or sodas. Sip only one to two ounces at a time. Avoid acidic drinks like lemonade or orange, grapefruit, and tomato juice.
  • Suck on ice chips to prevent dehydration if nothing else will stay down.
  • For fever, take an over-the-counter pain reliever with acetaminophen only. Other types of pain relievers may irritate your already-upset stomach.
  • If necessary, take an over-the-counter anti-nausea medication.
  • Four to eight hours after the last time you vomited and when you can keep clear liquids down, start eating small amounts of bland foods like crackers, toast, Jell-O, plain rice, noodles, or other easily-digestible, non-irritating foods.
  • If you vomit within one hour of taking a birth control pill, use a back up method of contraception such as condoms until your next period starts, but keep taking your pills on schedule.

Over the Counter Medications for Nausea

  • Brand names listed as examples do not imply better quality over other brands. Generic equivalents may also exist.
  • Use only as directed on the package, unless your healthcare provider instructs you to do otherwise.
  • OTCs may interact with other medications or be potentially harmful if you have certain medical conditions. Talk to your pharmacist about options that are right for you.

Nausea:
examples: Pepto-Bismol®, Emetrol®

Forty Acres Pharmacy

The Forty Acres Pharmacy, located in the SSB 1.110 and operated by the UT College of Pharmacy, sells a wide variety of OTC medications and treatments. Ask our pharmacists to help you choose appropriate medications or products for your symptoms.

Red Flags

CALL THE UHS NURSE ADVICE LINE (512) 475-6877 (NURS) IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Nausea or vomiting following a recent discontinuation of long-term steroid use
  • Vomiting within one hour of taking any prescription medication
  • Severe dizziness or a spinning sensation
  • Pain in one or both sides of your back with fever and/or shaking chills
  • Yellow discoloration of your skin or the whites of your eyes
  • Signs of significant dehydration including: dizziness, especially when you stand up; dry mouth; decreased urination and/or dark yellow urine; mild confusion; or weakness
  • Nausea/vomiting lasting more than one week
  • Inability to hold down any fluids for more than 24 hours
  • Fever of 100.5 degrees F (38 degrees C) or more or fever that lasts longer than 72 hours

CALL 911 OR GO DIRECTLY TO AN EMERGENCY ROOM IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Signs of a heart attack including: pain, pressure, or tightness in your chest; pain that spreads to your arm, jaw, or neck; or pain that is associated with shortness of breath; irregular heart beat; profuse sweating; and/or significant weakness - especially if you have a personal or family history of heart disease
  • Nausea or vomiting following a recent injury to your head
  • Severe headache and stiff neck with fever and/or shaking chills
  • Vomiting large or repeated amounts of bloody or coffee-ground appearing material
  • Severe difficulty breathing or severe dizziness, weakness or confusion
  • Severe abdominal pain (being doubled over or unable to stand up) or pain associated with a hard abdomen

Diarrhea
Food Allergies and Intolerances
Hydration


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