Nausea and vomiting

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Definition

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.

Causes

Nausea and vomiting may occur separately or together. Common causes include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Gastroparesis (a condition in which the muscles of the stomach wall don’t function properly, interfering with digestion)
  • General anesthesia
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Motion sickness: First aid
  • Morning sickness
  • Migraine
  • Rotavirus
  • Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
  • Vestibular neuritis

Other possible causes of nausea and vomiting include:

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Anaphylaxis (in children)
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Appendicitis
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • (both cancerous and noncancerous)
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Concussion
  • Cholecystitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Depression (major depressive disorder)
  • Dizziness
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Ear infection (middle ear)
  • Food poisoning
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Hepatitis
  • Fever (in children)
  • Hydrocephalus (a congenital brain abnormality)
  • Hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid)
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Hypoparathyroidism (underactive parathyroid)
  • Intestinal ischemia
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Intracranial hematoma
  • Intussusception (in children)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver failure
  • Medications (including aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, oral contraceptives, digitalis, narcotics and antibiotics)
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Meningitis
  • Milk allergy (in infants and children)
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Pseudotumor cerebri
  • Pyloric stenosis (in infants)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Severe pain
  • Traumatic brain injury

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