Nausea and vomiting a feeling of queasiness followed by the forcible ejection of the contents of the stomach are not themselves disorders, but rather are common symptoms that may signal anything from pregnancy or overindulgence in food or alcohol to poisoning or a life threatening disease. The two usually, but not always, occur together. Nausea can originate in the labyrinth part of the ear, the brain, or gastrointestinal tract. Vomiting is a reflex , in which the muscles controlling the esophageal sphincter relax, the diaphragm and abdominal muscles contract, the opening to the larynx, or windpipe, doses, and the lower portion of the stomach contracts and forces the contents upward and out of the mouth.
Diagnostic Studies And Procedures
In most instances, nausea and vomiting are responses to an obvious, self-limiting circumstance, such as motion sickness, overeating, or exposure to an unpleasant odor, that does not require diagnosis or treatment. But if they develop along with other symptoms, such as fever, pain, swellings, or dizziness, a careful work up should be done to find the cause. Blood and urine tests are sometimes sufficient, but if an intestinal disorder such as gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, hepatitis, an ulcer, or a tumor is suspected, X-rays, ultrasound, a CT scan, MRI, and other imaging studies will likely be ordered.
A doctor may prescribe preventive medications to be taken before travel, surgery, or other events that are likely to provoke nausea and vomiting. If the drugs cannot be taken orally, they will be administered by injection, suppository, or a medicated patch.
The following antinau sea drugs, or antiemetics, suppress the vomiting center:
- Antihistamines, such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine and others), meclizine (Antivert and Bonine), and promethazine (Phenergan), reduce the sensitivity of the vomiting center of the brain. They also cause drowsiness.
- Metoclopramide (Reglan) controls peristalsis, the wave like action that propels food through the intestinal tract. It is prescribed to prevent nausea and vomiting that commonly occurs during cancer chemotherapy, radiation treatment, or general anesthesia .
- Phenothiazines, such as fluphenazine (Permitil), perphenazine (Trilafon), and prochlorperazine (Compazine and others), are primarily antipsychotic agents that also block impulses to and from the brain’s chemoreceptor center, which stimulates the vomiting center. These drugs are especially useful in preventing or stopping nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, severe migraine headaches, and general anesthesia.
- Scopolamine (Transderm Scop), which is administered as a medicated patch placed behind the ear, is prescribed to prevent motion sickness or treat vertigo.
Pressing on a point located on the inner wrist can help prevent or ease nausea. There are also special bracelets that apply constant pressure to point.
Facial massages or inhaling essences of basil, fennel, lavender, lemon, peppermint, rose, and san dalwood are said to alleviate nausea.
Many people undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy suffer from nausea and vomiting prompted by anticipation rather than the effect of the treatment itself. Biofeedback training, hypnosis, and visualization help prevent this reaction.
Ginger root is the most popular home remedy for nausea and vomiting. It is available as capsules, tea, or ginger sticks that are chewed. Drinking tea made from peppermint or crushed anise seeds or chewing caraway seeds also may reduce nausea. For morning sickness, basil tea or raspberry leaf tea are recommended.
Common sense and prudence can go a long way toward preventing nausea and vomiting, especially when the cause is overindulgence. During a bout of vomiting, avoid solid foods, milk, and citrus juice; instead, sip flat ginger ale, water, sweet fruit juice, bouillon, or a softened popside. If these provoke more vomiting, try sucking crushed ice. After symptoms subside, gradually add bland, fat free foods such as apple sauce, bananas, dry toast, clear soup, rice, pretzels, or soda crackers. As you recover, try skinless chicken, lean beef, puddings, and similar foods. To prevent pregnancy related morning sickness, eat small, frequent meals throughout the day, and have a banana or something starchy such as rice pudding before going to bed. Keep some crackers at your bedside to eat before getting up in the morning.
Other Causes of Nausea And Vomiting
Reye’s syndrome causes a persistent type of forceful vomiting. Babies born with pyloric stenosis, a defect in which food cannot pass from the stomach into the small intestine, also vomit forcefully after eating.