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Nausea and/or Vomiting

Nauseous? Queasy? The impending doom that you may throw up soon? As someone who regularly gets carsick, I feel your pain. That feeling of nausea is miserable, and I’m convinced that vomiting (also called emesis) is the most uncomfortable thing on the planet.

Nausea and vomiting don’t always go together, especially in our kiddos. They rarely communicate nausea and instead seem to just throw up out of nowhere. If you’re lucky, you might get a “my belly hurts” as a warning. Overeating is a common reason… and then they immediately feel better and continue running around like maniacs! As adults, we typically do feel nauseous before throwing up (and thus, we’re better at making it to the toilet).

Most of the time, nausea and/or vomiting is short-lived. They can be symptoms of so many things, from motion sickness to a virus to something more serious, such as vertigo (dizziness) or head trauma.

When should I be concerned about nausea and/or vomiting?

It’s time to be concerned if you witness:

  • Blood in the vomit (also described as looking like coffee grounds, “coffee ground emesis”)
  • Vomiting after trauma to the head
  • Projectile vomiting in babies
  • Confusion or decreased alertness
  • Lethargy, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Suspicion that you or your kiddo ingested a poisonous substance
  • Severe abdominal pain or a swollen, tender abdomen
  • Chest pain
  • High fever and stiff neck
  • Unexplained weight loss along with your nausea and vomiting
  • Vomiting lasting more than 24 hours

If you or your kiddo aren’t having the above symptoms, it’s okay to wait this out at home.

What can be done to control or relieve nausea and vomiting?

  • Stay hydrated with small sips throughout the day. Ginger ale, tea, or water will help.
  • Either hold off on food for a while or stick to bland foods, such as toast or crackers. Avoid spicy foods and dairy products.
  • Avoid strong odors.
  • Rest! Don’t shake up that belly with increased activity.
  • Get some fresh air.
  • Smell peppermint oil.
  • Take slow, deep breaths.

What to do if you feel nausea after eating?

Stay upright for 30-60 minutes after your meal. You may be experiencing acid reflux (or heartburn), where the stomach acid creeps back up the esophagus. Feeling nauseous after eating could also indicate food poisoning or a stomach ulcer. Call your doctor if you suspect an ulcer!

What causes bile vomiting and what to do about it?

Bile is green or dark green, can be more greenish-yellow when mixed with stomach juices. This is a concerning finding, especially in infants. Call the doctor to see what’s going on.

Throwing up stomach juices and acid, which is yellow, is very common if you haven’t eaten in many hours or if you’ve already thrown up enough times to empty your stomach. If either of those are what you are experiencing, that is normal and there is no need to be concerned. Beyond the general concern of When will this misery stop? of course. Truly sorry you’re dealing with this, it isn't fun at all.

If the nausea and vomiting are part of a virus, you may also experience headaches, stomach ache, diarrhea, fever. List some of your other symptoms in your Kinsa app so you can get more detailed information!

As you or your kiddo battle this illness, wash those hands - everyone in the family! You can’t wash too much. And grab some disinfectant to get those germs out of the house so you can move on before the next thing strikes. Wipe down surfaces and doorknobs – this is one of those things we don’t want to share. If you have gloves handy, wear those during vomit clean-up duty! Hopefully whatever is making you queasy is more short lived than my lifelong nemesis, motion sickness. Fingers crossed that you’ll be feeling better by tomorrow!

Blake Wageman

Blake Wageman, RN, BSN has over 14 years of nursing under her belt, primarily focused on NICU babies and, just as importantly, their worried parents.