Let's see if we can figure out what's causing your vomiting.
Select additional symptoms and we'll narrow your results.

What causes vomiting? 181 possible conditions

What is Vomiting?

Vomiting is a forceful discharge of stomach contents. Vomiting can be a one-time event linked to something that doesn’t settle right in the stomach. Recurrent vomiting may be attributed to numerous underlying medical conditions. Frequent vomiting may also lead to dehydration. This is a potentially deadly condition when left untreated.

Causes of Vomiting

Vomiting is common. Eating too much food or alcohol can make a person throw up. This generally isn’t a cause for concern. Vomiting itself is not a condition, but rather a symptom of other conditions. Some common causes of this symptom include:

  • food poisoning
  • indigestion
  • infections (associated with bacterial and viral illnesses)
  • motion sickness
  • pregnancy-related morning sickness
  • headaches
  • prescription medications
  • anesthesia
  • chemotherapy
  • Crohn’s disease

Frequent vomiting not related to any of these causes may be a symptom of cyclic vomiting syndrome. This condition is characterized by vomiting for up to 10 days at a time. It is usually coupled with nausea and extreme lack of energy. It mainly occurs during childhood.

While it also affects adults, recurrent vomiting is often dismissed as being related to another condition. According to the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, up to 2,000 out of every 100,000 children experience cyclic vomiting syndrome (LHNCBC). When left untreated, this condition can cause vomiting episodes several times throughout the year.

Vomiting Emergencies

While vomiting is a common symptom, certain conditions warrant emergency medical attention. A doctor should be sought immediately if a person:

  • vomits for more than one day
  • suspects food poisoning
  • has a severe headache accompanied by stiff neck
  • has severe abdominal pain

Blood in the vomit is another reason to call emergency services. Also called hematemesis, vomiting blood refers to a situation in which a patient:

  • vomits large amounts of red blood
  • spits up dark blood
  • coughs up a substance that looks like coffee grounds

Throwing up small amounts of blood is not hematemesis. Vomiting blood is often caused by ulcers, ruptured blood vessels, and stomach bleeding. It can also be caused by some forms of cancer. This condition is often accompanied by dizziness. A person who vomits blood should call a doctor immediately.

Complications of Vomiting

Dehydration is the most common vomiting related complication. When you throw up, your stomach not only expels food, you also lose fluids. Dehydration can cause:

  • dry mouth
  • fatigue
  • dark urine
  • decreased urination

This complication is especially serious in infants and young children who vomit. This is because younger children have less fluid to sustain themselves due to smaller body mass. Parents whose children show symptoms of dehydration should talk to a pediatrician immediately.

Malnutrition is another complication of vomiting. Failure to keep down solid foods causes the body to gradually lose nutrients. People experiencing excessive fatigue and weakness related to frequent vomiting should seek medical attention.

Vomiting Treatments

Generally, treatment for vomiting addresses the underlying cause. Treatment is not necessary for throwing up once in a while. Hydration is important, even if a patient vomits only once. Drinking clear liquids is recommended, preferably those containing electrolytes. These help provide essential nutrients lost through vomiting. Avoiding food until six hours after a person has finished vomiting is also recommended. Solid foods can irritate a sensitive stomach, increasing the chances of throwing up.

For frequent vomiting, a doctor might prescribe antiemetic drugs. These medications help to reduce episodes of throwing up. Alternative remedies, such as ginger, bergamot, and lemongrass oil may also help. Use of supplements should be authorized by a doctor as they may cause drug interactions.

Dietary changes can also help recurrent vomiting. These are especially helpful for morning sickness. Foods that help to alleviate vomiting include:

  • non-greasy foods
  • smaller meals throughout the day
  • saltine crackers to ward off nausea
  • ginger products, such as ginger ale

Preventing Vomiting

Treatment plans are the best course of action for related medical conditions. Triggers of vomiting can vary between patients. These may include:

  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • eating too much food
  • migraines
  • exercising after eating
  • stress
  • hot or spicy foods
  • lack of sleep

Adopting better lifestyle habits can help prevent vomiting episodes. While the occasional flu virus cannot be avoided, knowing how to treat recurrent vomiting can help a person avoid further health complications.

Article Sources:

Read More

See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.


Food Poisoning

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Food poisoning occurs when you consume foods contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Symptoms are usually uncomfortable but not severe.

Read more »



Indigestion (also known as dyspepsia) happens to almost everyone from time to time. Eating habits or a chronic digestive problem can trigger indigestion.

Read more »


Viral Gastroenteritis

Viral gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, is caused by a number of different viruses. Its symptoms usually last for two to three days.

Read more »


Types of Acid Reflux

Acid reflux symptoms are caused when stomach contents flow up from the stomach back into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, stomach pain, and burping.

Read more »


Yellow Skin (Jaundice)

Jaundice is yellowing of the skin and eyes and can indicate a serious problem with liver, gallbladder, or pancreas function.

Read more »


Alcoholic Liver Disease

Damage to the liver from excessive drinking can lead to ALD. Years of alcohol abuse cause the liver to become inflamed and swollen. This damage can also cause scarring known as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the final stage o...

Read more »



Weakness in your stomach lining allows digestive juices to damage and inflame it, causing gastritis. It comes in both acute and chronic forms.

Read more »


Stomach Ulcer

Stomach ulcers are painful sores in the stomach lining or small intestine. They occur when the mucus that protects the stomach from digestive juices is reduced.

Read more »



Gallstones are hard deposits in the gallbladder that can eventually block the exiting bile ducts. Abdominal pain, fever, itchy skin, and jaundice are symptoms.

Read more »



This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix, which can be fatal if left untreated. The telltale sign is pain that usually starts as mild cramping, especially on the right side, and becomes more severe over time.

Read more »


Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is a sensation of wooziness that usually occurs when someone is traveling by car, boat, plane, or train. It can cause an upset stomach, nausea, cold sweats, dizziness, and headache.

Read more »


Food Allergy Basics

Food allergies are overblown responses by the immune system to foods that aren't typically harmful - like eggs and peanuts. Continue reading and learn more about food allergies, and how to prevent or treat sever...

Read more »


Head Injury

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

A head injury could be an injury to the brain, skull, or scalp. It can vary in severity depending on the cause. In some cases face swelling can be a sign of a head injury.

Read more »


Peptic Ulcer

Peptic ulcers are painful sores in the lining of the stomach, esophagus, or small intestine. Peptic ulcers are a fairly common health problem.

Read more »


Intestinal Obstruction

If your small or large intestine becomes blocked, fluid and digested food cannot move through. This can cause bloating, stomach cramps, and burping.

Read more »


Stomach Cancer (Gastric Adenocarcinoma)

Stomach cancer occurs when cancerous cells form in the stomach lining. Because it's difficult to detect, it's often not diagnosed until it's more advanced.

Read more »



Bleeding or spotting, increased need to urinate, tender breasts, fatigue, nausea, and missed period are signs of pregnancy.

Read more »



Cirrhosis is the severe scarring and poor function of the liver caused by long-term exposure to toxins such as alcohol or viral infections.

Read more »



This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. It may cause headache and fever in teens and adults, irritability in babies, and trouble breathing in young children.

Read more »



This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain tissue. It's most often caused by viral infections. In some cases, bacterial infections can cause encephalitis.

Read more »

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.