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Acute Nausea and Vomiting


Acute nausea and vomiting

starts suddenly, gets worse quickly, and lasts a short time. Common causes include pregnancy, alcohol, infection, and medicines. A head injury, heart attack, or inner ear imbalance can also cause acute nausea and vomiting.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You see blood in your vomit or your bowel movements.
  • You have sudden, severe pain in your chest and upper abdomen after hard vomiting or retching.
  • You have swelling in your neck and chest.
  • You are dizzy, cold, and thirsty and your eyes and mouth are dry.
  • You are urinating very little or not at all.
  • You have muscle weakness, leg cramps, and trouble breathing.
  • Your heart is beating much faster than normal.
  • You continue to vomit for more than 48 hours.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have frequent dry heaves (vomiting but nothing comes out).
  • Your nausea and vomiting does not get better or go away after you use medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or treatment.

Treatment for acute nausea and vomiting

may include medicines to calm your stomach and stop the vomiting. You may need IV fluids if you are dehydrated.

Prevent or manage acute nausea and vomiting:

  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol may upset or irritate your stomach. Too much alcohol can also cause acute nausea and vomiting.
  • Control stress. Headaches due to stress may cause nausea and vomiting. Find ways to relax and manage your stress. Get more rest and sleep.
  • Drink more liquids as directed. Vomiting can lead to dehydration. It is important to drink more liquids to help replace lost body fluids. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Your provider may recommend that you drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). ORS contains water, salts, and sugar that are needed to replace the lost body fluids. Ask what kind of ORS to use, how much to drink, and where to get it.
  • Eat smaller meals, more often. Eat small amounts of food every 2 to 3 hours, even if you are not hungry. Food in your stomach may decrease your nausea.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider before you take over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. These medicines can cause serious problems if you use certain other medicines, or you have a medical condition. You may have problems if you use too much or use them for longer than the label says. Follow directions on the label carefully.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Acute Nausea and Vomiting (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.