Throwing up after eating

Feeling the effects of starvation

For a couple of months now I have been severely restricting my caloric intake to a very small amount calories per day. I eat very little, and only eat a few particular foods. Even still I eat in very small portions, and quite infrequently. I am a fairly young female. I began restricting calories in an effort to lose weight, which has worked. I have lost a significant amount of weight so far and I continue to lose weight now. However, in doing so, I realize that I have compromised my health- something that I once took great care to uphold. I was also exercising, by now find that I hardly have the energy to function in my classes, and I nap as soon as I get home because my body feels completely empty. When I eat anything other than what my body has become accustomed to over the past couple of months, I become terribly nauseous to the point where I feel that I must lie down. This is also sometimes accompanied by vomiting. I have been vomiting much more frequently over the past few days and fear that this is a very bad sign. I now find that I sometimes can not even eat the few foods I have allowed into my highly restrictive diet, for I vomit them back up almost immediately as well. Every single night I am reduced to bed rest because I either do not have the energy to function through my everyday chores and activities, or I am so nauseous that I don’t find it wise to move from a lying position. Just tonight I ate a tiny bit of my little sisters dinner and violently vomited within the half hour. When I took a antacid tablet I immediately vomited again, and then once again an hour later I threw up almost immediately upon lying on my stomach and it was nothing but water and stomach acid. It seems that the less I eat, the more my body rejects the food I do eat, and I am beginning to realize just how inconvenient and unpleasant the effects of starvation are. However I fear that my body will not be able to bounce back from this, as every time I eat I now feel nauseous. I also still fear that I will put on weight. Frankly, I am still not be size I wish I was, though I am complimented on my newly trim physique quite often. I still don’t feel that I am as small as I would like to be, and- no matter how bittersweet- it is difficult for me to convince myself that it’s not worth it to continue with these unhealthy eating habits, as it has obviously worked in trimming me down. I do realize that being thin and being healthy are not always synonymous, and especially so is my situation. But I don’t know what to do to end this viscous cycle while stil coming to a conclusion that suits my wishes. I am TERRIFIED of putting weight back on and I don’t want this period of starvation to have been in vain, as I have put my body through hell in the process. Even still, weight loss is the most important thing to me. I have come here for help in living a normal life and embracing normal, healthy eating habits. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t need the help.


Gastroparesis literally translated means “stomach paralysis”. Gastroparesis is a digestive disorder in which the motility of the stomach is either abnormal or absent. In healthy people, when the stomach is functioning normally, contractions of the stomach help to crush ingested food and then propel the pulverized food into the small intestine where further digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. When the condition of gastroparesis is present the stomach is unable to contract normally, and therefore cannot crush food nor propel food into the small intestine properly. Normal digestion may not occur.


Symptoms of gastroparesis include bloating, nausea, early fullness while eating meals, heartburn, and epigastric pain. These symptoms are often referred to as dyspepsia. Ingestion of solid foods, high fiber foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, fatty foods or drinks high in fat or carbonation may cause symptoms. Perhaps the most common symptom is early satiety, or the sensation of feeling full shortly after starting a meal. Nausea and vomiting are also common. A person with gastroparesis may regurgitate or vomit undigested food many hours after their last meal. Weight loss can occur due to poor absorption of nutrients, or taking in too few calories.


There are many causes of gastroparesis. Diabetes is one of the most common causes for gastroparesis. Other causes include infections, endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism, connective tissue disorders like scleroderma, autoimmune conditions, neuromuscular diseases, idiopathic (unknown) causes, psychological conditions, eating disorders, certain cancers, radiation treatment applied over the chest or abdomen, some chemotherapy agents, and surgery of the upper intestinal tract. Any surgery on the esophagus, stomach or duodenum may result in injury to the vagus nerve which is responsible for many sensory and motor (muscle) responses of the intestine. In health, the vagus nerve sends neurotransmitter impulses to the smooth muscle of the stomach that result in contraction and forward propulsion of gastric contents. If the vagus nerve is injured by trauma or during surgery gastric emptying may be reduced. Symptoms of postoperative gastroparesis may develop immediately, or months to years after a surgery is performed.

It is important to realize that medications prescribed for a variety of conditions may have side effects that cause gastric emptying to slow down. The most common drugs that delay stomach emptying are narcotics and certain antidepressants. Table 1 lists more medications that may delay stomach emptying. If possible, patients having dyspeptic symptoms, vomiting or early fullness should discontinue the offending medications before undergoing any motility tests. Fortunately, gastric emptying resumes and symptoms improve when medications causing ‘pseudo-gastroparesis’ are stopped. It is important to have the names of all your medications recorded and with you when you see a physician for evaluation of gastrointestinal symptoms.

People with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia may also develop delayed gastric emptying. Gastric emptying may resume and symptoms improve when food intake and eating schedules normalize.

Table 1

Medications associated with impaired gastric emptying

Tricyclic antidepressants
Calcium channel blockers
Dopamine agonists


Medications that cause slow emptying should typically be stopped, and reversible conditions (example: hypothyroid) treated prior to testing. A history of early satiety, bloating, nausea, regurgitation or vomiting with meals would normally prompt an evaluation to determine the cause of symptoms. Inflammation, ulcer disease, or obstruction by a tumor can also cause these symptoms and diagnostic tests would be used to determine the cause. Radiographic tests, endoscopic procedures, and motility tests are used to exclude obstruction, to view the stomach lining and obtain biopsies, and to examine muscle contraction patterns. These tests are described below.

Upper Endoscopy is a test that is performed by inserting a thin flexible tube through the mouth into the stomach. The endoscope has camera capabilities and allows the upper gastrointestinal tract to be evaluated for ulcers, inflammation, infection, cancer, hernias or other abnormalities. These conditions can cause symptoms similar to gastroparesis. Upper endoscopy usually requires 10-15 minutes to complete. Medication is usually administered intravenously immediately before the test for comfort and sedation. If abnormal findings such as an ulcer or inflammation are noted biopsies can be obtained. Fluid samples may be collected testing for bacterial overgrowth.

Gastric Emptying Study is a widely available nuclear medicine test that examines the rate of emptying of solid or liquid material from the stomach. A delay in gastric emptying indicates a diagnosis of gastroparesis. Subjects consume an egg and toast or oatmeal meal along with milk or orange juice. The food portion contains a tiny amount of the radioactive material (99m Tc), which is measured by a scanning technique as it empties from the stomach. A longer test can examine if small intestine transit is also affected.

Scintigraphic Gastric Accommodation is a test that measures the volume of stomach contents before and after a meal, and how well the stomach relaxes in response to food intake. This test uses a tiny amount of radioactive material (99m Tc) which is selectively taken up by the lining of the stomach, and indirectly measures the volume of the stomach. The subject consumes a nutrient drink over 30 seconds. A scan of the stomach is taken before and after the nutrient drink. The test indicates whether the stomach relaxes appropriately when filled. Symptoms of poor stomach relaxation can be identical to poor emptying, and this test can help distinguish the processes. Scintigraphic gastric accommodation is not readily available.

Gastroduodenal manometry is a test that measures how well the smooth muscle of the stomach and small intestine contracts and relaxes. The test is performed by placing a thin tube into the stomach usually with the aid of the endoscope. The tube is advanced into the small intestine and over the next few hours the contractile responses while the subject is fasting and eating are observed and recorded. The manometry catheter provides information on how strong and how often the muscles of the stomach and intestine contract and whether the stomach contractions are coordinated with the contractions in the small bowel. Gastric duodenal manometry may be helpful but is often not needed to make a diagnosis of gastroparesis. This test is not widely available.
A Small Intestinal X-ray is a contrast radiograph used to outline the anatomy of the small bowel. This study is not generally needed to make a diagnosis of gastroparesis, but a blockage anywhere in the small intestine will result in a back up of material and could account for delayed gastric emptying. An obstruction in the small bowel may cause symptoms similar to gastroparesis, but the treatment is different. Treatment for intestinal obstruction is avoiding intake of any food or liquid until the cause of obstruction such as inflammation resolves or surgery is performed to remove the blockage.

Wireless capsule GI monitoring system (SmartPill®)
The wireless capsule monitoring system is a non-digestible capsule that records pH, temperature and pressure changes as it travels through the intestine (figure 3). The information from the wireless capsule is transmitted to a receiver worn by the patient around their waist. The information is used to determine how fast or slow the stomach empties, and similarly how food and liquid move through the intestine. The test is done in an outpatient setting, takes generally 3-6 hours and within 24-72 hours the pill is passed from the body. A potential advantage of the wireless capsule system over conventional gastric emptying or scintigraphy would be that the study could be done in the outpatient setting and would not involve radiation, though the amount of radiation used in alternative tests is very small and not considered harmful. Occasionally, if the capsule is not passed within three days your doctor may request an abdominal x-ray to assure it has left the body. Use of the wireless capsule monitoring system is not recommended in patients who have had previous surgery to decrease the amount of acid they are secreting, in patients who are unable to stop their antacid medications for the study or in patients with narrowing of the bowel lumen.


Importance of Nutrition as Treatment in Gastroparesis

Diet is one of the mainstays of treatment for those who suffer from gastroparesis. Some foods are more difficult than others for the stomach to digest. Fatty foods take a longer time to digest, as do foods that are fibrous, like raw vegetables. People with gastroparesis should reduce their intake of fiber or avoid these foods. Fiber when eaten should be chewed well and cooked until soft. Food that is poorly digested can collect in the stomach and form what is called a bezoar. This mass of undigested matter may cause a blockage, preventing the stomach from emptying and result in nausea and pain. In such a case, it may be necessary to use endoscopic tools to break the bezoar apart and remove it. Fortunately, even when stomach emptying is significantly impaired, thick and thin liquids (e.g. pudding and nutrient drinks) are usually tolerated and can pass through the stomach. Many people with gastroparesis can live a relatively normal life with the aid of supplemental nutritional drinks, soft foods the consistency of pudding and by pureeing solid food in a blender.

Feeding tubes placed in the small intestine (jejunostomy) may be required if gastric paralysis is severe and a person is unable to manage with a pureed or soft diet. These feeding tubes are usually placed endoscopically or surgically through the skin and directly into the small intestine (figure 1). Before such a feeding tube is placed, a temporary nasal or oral jejunal feeding tube is usually tried for a few days to make sure the individual can tolerate this form of feeding into the small bowel. The temporary feeding tube is usually placed by guiding it through the nose or mouth, down the esophagus or “food pipe”, through the stomach and finally into the small intestine with the aid of an endoscope (figure 2).

Medications Prescribed for Gastroparesis

At the present time there are few medications available or are approved to treat gastroparesis and their use can be limited by undesirable side effects and limited effectiveness. The medications available include metoclopramide, domperidone, erythromycin and cisapride.

Metoclopramide is a medication that acts on dopamine receptors in the stomach and intestine as well as in the brain. This medication can stimulate contraction of the stomach that leads to improvement in emptying. This medication also has the effect of acting on the part of the brain responsible for controlling the vomiting reflex and therefore may decrease the sensation of nausea and the urge to vomit. Use of this medication is limited in some people due to the side effects of dystonia, agitation and muscle twitching or “tardive dyskinesia”. Metoclopramide can also cause restlessness, insomnia, depression, as well as painful breast swelling and nipple discharge in both men and women. It is not recommended that this medication be taken long term. It comes in tablet, liquid, intravenous, as well as a new under-the-tongue disintegrating form.

Domperidone is another medication, similar to metoclopramide, that acts on dopamine receptors. Domperidone does not have the side effect of tardive dyskenisia and agitation that are seen with metoclopramide because it acts mostly on peripheral receptors, rather than in the brain. Domperidone is not available in the United States but is used in Mexico and Canada and in some European countries. It is available in oral and suppository forms.

Erythromycin is a commonly used antibiotic that binds to receptors in the stomach and small intestine called “motilin receptors”. Stimulation of motilin receptors results in contraction and improved emptying of the stomach. The beneficial effect of erythromycin can be short lived as individuals who use it frequently have a high likelihood of developing tolerance to the medication. Perhaps the best use of erythromycin is for acute worsening of symptoms or used on an intermittent basis in order to reduce the potential for tolerance. It is available in pill, liquid and intravenous forms.

Cisapride binds to serotonin receptors located in the wall of the stomach that leads to contraction of stomach smooth muscle and improved gastric emptying. In the late 1990’s cisapride was taken off the market due to complications of cardiac arrhythmias in patients who were using this drug. It is once again available but its use is restricted. Individuals with underlying kidney or heart disease should not use cisapride.

Therapies Under Investigation for Gastroparesis

Serotonin receptor agonists have been used as treatment for other motility disorders and may offer some promise for the treatment of gastroparesis. Acetylcholine esterase inhibitors have been shown in some clinical trials to improve symptoms of dyspepsia. Ghrelin agonists are motilin-related peptides that accelerate gastric emptying, small intestine transit and improve postoperative ileus. Cholecystokinin receptor antagonists have been shown to reverse slow gastric emptying caused by a high fat meal. Many of these treatments are currently under investigation as treatments for gastroparesis.

Surgery for Gastroparesis

Surgery for gastroparesis is reserved for individuals with severe and refractory symptoms, intolerance to therapy, or malnutrition related to the condition. Venting tubes placed into the stomach may reduce symptoms and hospitalizations for individuals with recurrent vomiting and dehydration. Varieties of tubes, including button gastrostomy tubes and percutaneous gastrostomy tubes are available to vent trapped air from within the poorly contracting stomach. A dual channel gastrostomy tube allows both gastric venting and nutritional supplementation delivered into the small intestine. A percutaneous jejunostomy tube is used for nutritional supplementation. In some cases the lower part of the stomach is stapled or bypassed and the small intestine reattached to the remaining stomach to improve emptying of stomach contents. Rarely the stomach is completely removed.

Electrical Gastric Stimulation

An area generating a great deal of interest and research is the use of electrical stimulation to enhance gastrointestinal contractile activity. This technique uses electrodes that are surgically or endoscopically attached to the stomach wall and when stimulated, trigger stomach contractions (figure 4). While gastric electrical stimulation does not lead to a significant improvement in gastric emptying, in the subgroup of patients with nausea and vomiting as their main symptoms, this treatment may provide relief of symptoms. How the device works is not well understood at this point, but it is thought that it has its effect on the nerves that control sensation within the stomach wall. Several studies have shown patients have a better quality of life and spend less time in the hospital for gastroparesis symptoms after the placement of the electrical stimulator.

Figure 1: Gastrostomy and jejunostomy anatomy

Figure 2: Oro-jejunal feeding tube

Figure 3: Wireless Capsule Monitoring System

Figure 4: Electrical Gastric Stimulation

Author(s) and Publication Date(s)

Jean Fox, MD and Amy Foxx-Orenstein, DO, FACG, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, and Scottsdale, AZ – Published August 2004. Updated November 2008. Updated December 2012.

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Symptoms & Causes of Gastroparesis

What are the symptoms of gastroparesis?

The symptoms of gastroparesis may include

  • feeling full soon after starting a meal
  • feeling full long after eating a meal
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • too much bloating
  • too much belching
  • pain in your upper abdomen
  • heartburn
  • poor appetite

Certain medicines may delay gastric emptying or affect motility, resulting in symptoms that are similar to those of gastroparesis. If you have been diagnosed with gastroparesis, these medicines may make your symptoms worse. Medicines that may delay gastric emptying or make symptoms worse include the following:

  • narcotic pain medicines, such as codeine , hydrocodone , morphine , oxycodone , and tapentadol
  • some antidepressants , such as amitriptyline , nortriptyline , and venlafaxine
  • some anticholinergics —medicines that block certain nerve signals
  • some medicines used to treat overactive bladder
  • pramlintide

These medicines do not cause gastroparesis.

If you have gastroparesis, you may feel full long after eating a meal.

When should I seek a doctor’s help?

You should seek a doctor’s help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • severe pain or cramping in your abdomen
  • blood glucose levels that are too high or too low
  • red blood in your vomit, or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • sudden, sharp stomach pain that doesn’t go away
  • vomiting for more than an hour
  • feeling extremely weak or fainting
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever

You should seek a doctor’s help if you have any signs or symptoms of dehydration, which may include

  • extreme thirst and dry mouth
  • urinating less than usual
  • feeling tired
  • dark-colored urine
  • decreased skin turgor, meaning that when your skin is pinched and released, the skin does not flatten back to normal right away
  • sunken eyes or cheeks
  • light-headedness or fainting

You should seek a doctor’s help if you have any signs or symptoms of malnutrition, which may include

  • feeling tired or weak all the time
  • losing weight without trying
  • feeling dizzy
  • loss of appetite
  • abnormal paleness of the skin

What causes gastroparesis?

In most cases, doctors aren’t able to find the underlying cause of gastroparesis, even with medical tests. Gastroparesis without a known cause is called idiopathic gastroparesis.

Diabetes is the most common known underlying cause of gastroparesis. Diabetes can damage nerves, such as the vagus nerve and nerves and special cells, called pacemaker cells, in the wall of the stomach. The vagus nerve controls the muscles of the stomach and small intestine. If the vagus nerve is damaged or stops working, the muscles of the stomach and small intestine do not work normally. The movement of food through the digestive tract is then slowed or stopped. Similarly, if nerves or pacemaker cells in the wall of the stomach are damaged or do not work normally, the stomach does not empty.

In addition to diabetes, other known causes of gastroparesis include

  • injury to the vagus nerve due to surgery on your esophagus, stomach, or small intestine
  • hypothyroidism
  • certain autoimmune diseases, such as scleroderma
  • certain nervous system disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis
  • viral infections of your stomach

Understanding GP

Symptoms of Gastroparesis

Intro / Digestion / Who gets GP / What happens / Symptoms / Dx / Mild forms / Tx


Imagine being healthy one minute, then terribly ill with stomach flu-like symptoms the next. However, the stomach flu does not go away. You fall chronically ill with these symptoms for years; you are assaulted by bouts of daily nausea—in the most severe cases, unrelenting vomiting.

This is the picture of idiopathic gastroparesis. No one can really explain what happened to make you so sick. The medication to treat this stomach disorder doesn’t always seem to help.

Regardless of how one develops gastroparesis, the symptoms are similar for all. Listen to the voices of the sufferers. They can describe the symptoms of gastroparesis better than anyone can.

Mid-abdominal discomfort after eating is a frequent complaint. Some have described it as a “large rock sitting in your gut”. For others, this is not just discomfort, but actual pain.

“Every time I eat, the abdominal pain is unbearable.”

“The bloating is horrible, I just ‘balloon-up’ after eating.”

“I’m afraid to eat, I feel so sick afterwards.”

Nausea, especially in the evening, is also very common, along with acid reflux (the bitter taste of stomach acid washing up into the mouth).

“If only someone could take away this terrible nausea!”

“I live with this nausea twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, I can’t take it anymore.”

Another characteristic symptom of gastroparesis is vomiting of undigested food many hours after eating due to the weakened stomach’s inability to properly churn and mix food.

“I wake up in the middle of the night vomiting.”

Unrelenting vomiting may occur in those with severe gastroparesis.
Now read what the experts say—those who treat these patients:

“Nausea and abdominal pain are the most common complaints of patients with gastroparesis.”

“Nausea is a very severe, debilitating symptom, and antiemetics should be used extensively.”

“Once nausea leads to vomiting, a cycle invariably ensues, resulting in dehydration and hospital admission.”

“Therapy in gastroparesis should be aggressive and extra antiemetic efforts supplied in addition to the prokinetics…”

In severe cases, people have trouble keeping food down. To stop the dramatic starvation that they are faced with, they may need nutritional support via tubes inserted into their intestines, or total intravenous nutrition. Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) means feeding not by mouth, but by a needle, and in this situation, a catheter line delivering liquid nourishment.

For less severe cases of gastroparesis, all the same symptoms are there: nausea, intermittent vomiting, bloating, belching, acid reflux, pain, and loss of appetite.

Other vague symptoms can also occur with gastroparesis and may be related to autonomic nerve involvement. Autonomic nerve involvement in idiopathic and diabetic gastroparesis is fairly common. These symptoms may include:

  • lightheadedness (especially with body position changes),

  • sweating abnormalities,

  • difficulty in urinating,

  • tingling sensations in the extremities and,

  • circulatory changes in extremities.

2. McCallum, Richard W., M.D., and Sabu, J. George, M.D., Kansas City, Kansas: Clinical Perspectives in Gastroenterology, May/June, 2001

The Basics of Gastroparesis

If you find yourself feeling extremely full after eating only a small amount of food, or feeling nauseated and throwing up after eating, don’t brush it off as indigestion or lack of appetite. These could be warning signs of a digestive condition called gastroparesis. While difficult to treat, a special gastroparesis diet can help to control symptoms.

Gastroparesis: What Is It?

Gastroparesis is a disorder in which the stomach empties extremely slowly — a meal that can be digested in about four hours in a healthy person may take days to empty out of the stomach of someone with gastroparesis, says Francisco J. Marrero, MD, a gastroenterologist with the Digestive Disease Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Gastroparesis results when the vagus nerve, which contracts the stomach to squeeze food further down the digestive tract, becomes damaged in some way.

Gastroparesis is an extremely rare condition, affecting only about 10 out of every 100,000 people, according to Dr. Marrero. The condition can be caused by:

  • Infection
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Radiation treatment
  • Diabetes

Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia may cause gastroparesis, but digestive function will typically return to normal once food intake returns to normal. Medication may cause similar symptoms, but they are usually only temporary.

Diabetes is one particularly big risk factor for this digestive condition. Long-term diabetes causes abnormalities in the nervous system, which can manifest as numbness and tingling in the fingertips or affect the nervous system in your bowels, says Marrero. High blood glucose, a problem with diabetics, can eventually weaken the vagus nerve.

Gastroparesis: Common Symptoms and Treatment

Beyond feeling full too fast and nausea and vomiting after eating, there are a few more symptoms to be aware of. More signs of gastroparesis include:

  • Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fluctuating levels of blood glucose
  • Pain in the top of the abdomen

Not only is gastroparesis difficult to treat and manage, it can’t be cured. But some treatments can help reduce symptoms and discomfort. Treatment options include:

  • Medication. Several types of medication can help the stomach to empty food a little faster. These include the antibiotic erythromycin and the gastrointestinal stimulant metoclopramide (Reglan, Maxolon). However, according to Marrero, people quickly become intolerant of the antibiotic, and metoclopramide can have serious side effects. He says doctors are now giving people anti-nausea medication.
  • Changing your diet. Diet is one of the more effective ways to manage gastroparesis. Eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of a few large ones can help to alleviate symptoms of gastroparesis. People with serious symptoms may switch to an all-liquid or pureed diet since this may be easier to handle than solid foods. Skipping foods high in fat and fiber is also important in a gastroparesis diet.
  • Tube feeding. Patients with severe cases may need to have a tube placed in their small bowel so they can keep down sustenance, notes Marrero. This tube, called a jejunostomy, bypasses the slow-emptying stomach and delivers nutrients directly to the small bowel to offer better nutritional value and fewer symptoms.
  • Gastric electric stimulator. This small device is implanted via surgery and emits small pulses of electricity to reduce nausea and vomiting. However, Marrero says these devices are extremely expensive and may not reduce gastroparesis symptoms for everyone.

Gastroparesis is a tough condition to manage and can make eating difficult and uncomfortable. Not every treatment will work for everyone, but there are a variety of methods to try to manage gastroparesis. The type of treatment your doctor will recommend will be based on how severe the symptoms are, and how much pain and discomfort your gastroparesis causes.

Vomiting can happen for many different reasons

What is vomiting?

Vomiting can be unpleasant but it is usually not a sign of anything serious. Be careful not to get dehydrated, and see your doctor if it doesn’t go away in a day or 2.

Many different things can cause vomiting. It usually improves within 48 hours (2 days) and may have completely gone within 3 days.

Children tend to vomit more than adults. They usually get over vomiting very quickly.

What symptoms are related to vomiting?

If you are vomiting, you may also have:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea

Dehydration is a serious risk, especially in children. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • urinating less often (fewer wet nappies in babies)
  • dark urine
  • sunken eyes
  • dry mouth and tongue
  • tiredness and lethargy
  • headache

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use our diarrhoea and vomiting Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes vomiting?

Vomiting may be caused by a viral infection. Food poisoning can also cause vomiting. These often cause diarrhoea as well. Vomiting can also be caused by an illness or pregnancy.

You can find more information about the underlying causes of vomiting here.

When should I see my doctor?

Call an ambulance if you are vomiting and also have:

  • chest pain
  • severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • blurred vision
  • confusion
  • high fever and stiff neck
  • faeces in the vomit
  • bleeding from your rectum
  • you think you have swallowed something poisonous

Visit your doctor if:

  • you have been vomiting for more than 2 days
  • you also have a severe headache
  • you are dehydrated
  • you have not been able to keep down fluids for 12 hours or more
  • your vomit is green. In this case you are probably bringing up bile, a fluid the digestive system uses to digest foods
  • there is blood in your vomit or what looks like coffee granules
  • you have abdominal pain
  • you have diabetes, especially if you need to take insulin

How is vomiting treated?

The best thing is to have small sips of water or oral rehydration fluid to prevent dehydration. If your child is vomiting, they will also need comforting.

You can buy over the counter medications to stop vomiting, but you shouldn’t give these to children.

You should continue to breastfeed your baby if you have vomited, but you should make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid getting dehydrated. Maintain good hygiene and speak to your midwife or doctor for further advice.

Here is some self-help information:

  • Eat normally — do not starve yourself. If you are hungry, eat regular meals.
  • Rest at home and don’t go to work while you are ill.
  • If you have been vomiting, if you are in pain, get advice on medicines you can take.
  • Antibiotics are not usually given to treat vomiting.
  • Drink plenty of clear fluids (dilute 1 part juice to 4 parts water). Avoid undiluted fruit juice or soft drinks.
  • Re-hydration drinks are available over-the-counter from your local pharmacy and from some supermarkets. These drinks provide the correct balance of water, sugar and salt that your body needs. Follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Sports drinks and energy drinks should be avoided as a rehydration fluid option. They have high sugar content that does not assist with rehydration.

Can vomiting be prevented?

The best way to prevent vomiting is to avoid getting sick. To prevent catching a virus or to make sure you don’t pass it on to others:

  • Maintain good personal hygiene — you can do this by ensuring that you and your family always wash your hands with soap and warm water before eating or handling food and after using the toilet, cleaning contaminated surfaces or handling garbage.
  • Clean surfaces — washing with detergent and water is a very effective way of removing germs from surfaces that you have touched.
  • Do not share personal items — use your own personal items, such as towels, toothbrushes, flannels or face cloths.
  • Avoid handling or preparing food for others until 48 hours after the vomiting has stopped to avoid spreading germs.
  • To prevent the spread of infection, do not go swimming in a public pool for 2 weeks after your last episode of vomiting.
  • While you are unwell you should keep away from people who can easily pick up infections, such as newborn babies, pregnant women, older people and those with a lowered immune system.

Are there complications of vomiting?

Vomiting can affect the contraceptive pill (both the combined pill and mini pill). It can make the pill less effective at preventing pregnancy. Extra care must be taken if you wish to avoid pregnancy, such as using condoms. The effectiveness of the pill may not be back to normal for at least one week following vomiting, making it necessary to continue extra precautions.

5 common causes of nausea after eating

What is the nausea?

Nausea is simply the unpleasant feeling that you may potentially vomit. Vomiting, on the other hand, is an automatic response that terminates with the forceful expulsion of gastric contents. Nausea usually has a protective effect as it prevents you from ingesting harmful substances, and similarly, if you ingest something unpleasant the body’s response is to expel it.

How it occurs?

The so-called “mechanism of action” (i.e. how it happens) varies on what is causing the nausea. The list of conditions that lead to nausea is extensive, and this is also true of postprandial nausea. Below is a “Coles note” list of five common causes of nausea after eating.

What are the causes of nausea after eating?

  1. Infection: Many of us have been here, and it is very unpleasant! Food poisoning is usually the culprit, but viral gastroenteritis is also a common factor. If the nausea is sudden, followed by vomiting, especially within a couple hours after eating, chances are it’s food poisoning. Many different microbes can lead to food poisoning by means of toxins they produce. As unpleasant as this may be, the condition is self-limiting, but it is very important that you hydrate yourself. Monitor your symptoms and do not hesitate to seek immediate medical attention.
  2. Pregnancy: This one only applies to less than half of the population, but any sexually active woman of childbearing should take pregnancy into consideration. If you are on the pill, or other contraceptive methods it is important to go in for a regular check-up with your primary health care provider or gynaecologist.
  3. Dyspepsia: This is a fancy word for indigestion. Dyspepsia could be functional (meaning that something isn’t working properly, presumably issues with “motility” or how food travels down the digestive tract); or it could be due to other digestive problems (e.g. gallstones or inflammation of the pancreas). Dyspepsia can be acute, but some people endure this for months and years (chronic), which is not without a cascade of complications like a decrease in the quality of life.
  4. Medication/substance: Most medications can cause nausea and vomiting. At the forefront of these are chemotherapeutic agents, but illicit drugs and even alcohol can lead to nausea—after all, the body recognize them only as toxins.
  5. Anxiety: We can couple anxiety with other psychiatric disorders (e.g. anorexia, bulimia, depression, etc.). While these are not directly involved in the digestion of food, the digestive system is highly sensitive to our psychological and emotional state. During times of stress the body prioritizes its “fight or flight” response at the expense of digestive processes. After all, the body doesn’t know what’s causing the stress—it will always assume that you’re being chased by a tiger, and if that’s the case, a belly full of food would only weigh you down.

This is not an exhaustive list, and many other conditions (e.g. allergic reaction, neurological and metabolic conditions) can lead to nausea. Always check in person with a qualified health care professional in order to get down to the root cause of the nausea.

What can be done?

First thing is first, go in for a chat with your family physician, nurse practitioner, or licensed naturopathic doctor. If the symptoms are sudden, chances are it’s food poisoning (usually last 24-48 hour), so monitoring fluid intake is important, but this should not undermine the importance of a proper medical checkup. Other more serious conditions can be the underlying reason for your nausea. Your healthcare provider will walk you through the necessary steps.

For those of you that have been given “medical clearance”, and suffer from postprandial nausea due to long-standing indigestion (e.g. functional dyspepsia), you may consider adding a spoonful of lactic acid to your diet prior to a meal.

Some people have used apple cider vinegar, but find it a bit irritating. Herbs that stimulate liver and gallbladder function may not be a bad idea (e.g. milk thistle, boldo, artichoke). If stress and anxiety affect your digestion, you may want to discuss your options with a trusted counsellor, clinical psychologist, or even a licensed naturopathic doctor for additional “natural” options.

The Dangers & Risks Of Self Induced Vomiting

After eating a seriously large amount of food, to the point where you cannot even really move, think, or function properly, you’ll begin wondering why you just did that to yourself. You will also be wondering what your options are to find relief quickly. For answers, check out our Recovery From Quantity Food Challenges article. There are many things you can do that will gradually help you feel better, but know that relief will definitely not be very instant. You should have considered that before you even signed up for the challenge or took your first bite of the meal. As everyone already knows, there is one way to achieve instant relief, but the purpose of this article is to explain why making yourself throw up is not a very healthy or smart solution to your self inflicted problem. Throwing up one time or even twice on purpose is one thing, but consistently throwing up after overeating can lead to very serious health issues over time. These are the dangers of making yourself throw up after meals:

The Dangers Of Making Yourself Throw Up After Challenges

1. Your body will become more prone to throwing up – The human body is very good at gradually adapting to changes that you want it to make. If you lift weights properly, those muscles you are working will become stronger so that you can lift heavier weights. If you perform cardiovascular exercises regularly, your body will adapt so that you can continually perform those activities at a higher level for longer periods of time. If you do Stomach Capacity Training properly, you can gradually increase your maximum stomach capacity so that you can consume more food in one sitting than you previously could. On the other hand, if you continually throw up after overeating during large quantity food challenges, your body will adapt and become more prone to throwing up on its own. If this adaptation occurs, you will begin having issues towards the end of finishing large eating challenges, and you will find yourself throwing up more often without even trying to. In most cases, “getting sick” before completing the challenge means disqualification, and you obviously don’t want that. Not only is chronic puking bad for your health, but it can also lead to a decreased ability to win big eating competitions.

2. Serious dehydration and body fluid imbalances – Especially if you throw up just about “everything” after finishing your giant meal, you eliminate a very significant amount of stomach acid, water, and other vital body fluids. This creates temporary imbalances in most of your fluids until your body adapts and balances all of your fluid levels back to normal. If you do throw up after a meal, whether it is on purpose or just by accident, it is crucial that you consume plenty of water directly afterwards. If you don’t, you can potentially begin suffering from dehydration and all of your body processes will slow down and suffer too. Water also helps flush away the stomach acid remaining in your esophagus and mouth from when you did throw up. For more information about the benefits of water and staying hydrated, read Water Is Nature’s Ultimate Digestive Aid. As you will learn below, chronic imbalances in body fluids can create severe health issues over a period of time. While you may find relief much quicker by throwing up, you are damaging your long term health which is more important.

3. Your stomach acid will erode your teeth and mouth – Hopefully you already know this, but stomach acid is very highly acidic. On the pH scale of zero to fourteen, with zero being the most acidic and fourteen being the most alkaline, gastric acid measures between 1.5 to 3.5, depending on the individual. Your stomach acid has to be very acidic so that it can chemically digest all the food and liquids you consume. When you throw up after eating massive amounts of food, a large amount of stomach acid comes up along with all that food. Over a long period of chronic puking, that stomach acid will continually eat away at your teeth enamel and other tissues in your mouth. This will lead to severe mouth and dental issues, a lot more serious than getting a few cavities.

4. You will begin suffering from acid reflux or ulcers – Stomach acid will not just cause problems with your teeth and mouth as mentioned directly above in #3. Gastric acid will also potentially create problems in your stomach and esophagus. After a period of chronic puking, you may begin suffering from stomach ulcers and acid reflux disease. A peptic ulcer is a painful defect in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum. Gastric ulcers in your stomach are the end result of an imbalance between digestive fluids in the stomach. A duodenal ulcer in your small intestine is the end result of an imbalance between digestive fluids in your duodenum. As mentioned in #2 above, throwing up can cause these imbalances. Over time, these chronic imbalances will eventually cause noticeable stomach problems that are very hard to recover from and fix. Acid reflux disease (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a condition in which the stomach contests (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube connecting your mouth and stomach). This action can irritate the esophagus, causing serious heartburn and other negative symptoms. Chronic puking over time can both create and worsen acid reflux and allow your stomach acid to damage your esophagus too.

5. You can eventually begin suffering from bulimia – Before explaining this point, I’d like to be clear that this article is not about the dangers of bulimia, which are much more significant and intense. Bulimia Nervosa is a very harmful disease and eating disorder with a very unhealthy mindset. I read multiple articles about bulimia before writing this particular article just to make sure that we included all of the major dangers that stem from chronic puking over a period of time. If you are seeking information about the overall dangers of bulimia, the eating disorder, please that includes a detailed explanation, signs, symptoms, treatment, and how to find help. This particular article is for people that don’t have a bulimic mindset, but feel that it is perfectly fine to just throw up if they know they ate too much and are not feeling well. As said in the beginning of this article, throwing up just once or twice is one thing, but throwing up often after eating too much is an entirely different story that can be very harmful to your body in the long run. Those issues are mentioned up above in #1 through #4. While throwing up is physically damaging and may just be occasional for you, it can eventually lead into a bulimic mindset. For lack of a better term, throwing up after food challenges and big meals could possibly be a “gateway” into doing it more and more often, which then basically turns into you suffering from the eating disorder Bulimia Nervosa. The chances of this happening are very rare, but the chance is still there, and must of course be mentioned.

To stress our point in #5, the intended audience of this article is regular people that feel it is okay to “pull the trigger” and throw up after eating a large quantity food challenge or any other big meal, strictly to relieve themselves of the lethargic discomfort they are experiencing because they ate too much. These dangers do apply of course to all people that throw up often, but this article is not intended for individuals with body weight or body image issues that throw up after big meals to minimize weight gain or do anything else related to their body and weight. For more information about Bulimia Nervosa, please read the third party article linked in #5. You may also want to check out the article by WebMD about the effects of Bulimia Nervosa by clicking here.

I’d also like to note that this article is mostly intended for people who enjoy attempting large quantity food challenges and eating other big meals. Throwing up on purpose is not covered in much detail in our Recovery From Quantity Food Challenges article, so we explained all of the dangers in further detail above. We cover throwing up in further detail already in our Recovery From Spicy Food Challenges article, so please check that out if you are into attempting spicy challenges and eating really spicy foods. Also keep in mind that if you only plan on attempting one or two food challenges, this article really does not apply to you much either. This article is intended for amateur competitive eaters looking to compete in many future challenges and competitions. Competitive eating and food challenges are meant to be FUN!! We don’t want anybody making poor choices that will lead to them hurting themselves and suffering long term problems that could have easily been prevented.

To find out more information about eating disorders in general, . To seek help, contact the National Eating Disorder Association or The Eating Disorder Foundation.

Thanks for reading the dangers & risks of self induced vomiting and reading!!

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