Causes of Vomiting

Vomiting often occurs with nausea, and many of the causes of vomiting also cause “nausea and vomiting”. However, note that both “nausea-without-vomiting” and “vomiting-without-nausea” are possible.

Example Common Causes: Common well-known causes of vomiting include:

Example Dangerous Causes: There are various disorders that can be serious enough to be a medical emergency, some of which include:

This list only shows some examples. Other causes of vomiting can be serious too. Consider all possible causes, and see your doctor promptly for a full diagnosis. Any vomiting disorder can itself be dangerous from complications such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Pregnancy-Related Vomiting: That vomiting occurs in morning sickness is well-known, but there are various other possible causes of vomiting in pregnancy:

Balance Disorders: Various disorders that cause dizziness, light-headedness, vertigo, or other balance symptoms can also result in nausea and vomiting. Examples include:

There are other causes of dizziness or vertigo, which can cause vomiting. Read more about: Dizziness, Vertigo.

Infections: Various infections, both systemic and local illnesses, can cause vomiting:

Gastrointestinal Infections: Various stomach and intestinal infections can cause vomiting:

Non-Infectious Gastrointestinal Causes: In addition to contagious digestive infections, various disorders of the GI tract and its internal organs can cause vomiting, such as:

Urinary and Kidney Disorders: Various disorders of the kidneys and the urinary system can cause vomiting, such as:

Liver and Biliary Disorders: Various disorders of the liver can cause nausea and vomiting (usually with jaundice), such as:

Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders: Various disorders of the body’s chemical balance or hormonal systems can cause vomiting:

Brain and CNS Disorders: Some disorders of the brain and the central nervous system can result in nausea and vomiting (usually also with headache, but sometimes without headache):

Heart Disorders: Some heart disorders can cause nausea and/or vomiting, such as:

Other Disorders: There are many other causes of vomiting, such as:

Nausea: There are various other causes of nausea, which usually precedes and then results in vomiting, and are thus possible causes of vomiting. Read more about: Causes of Nausea.

Not Really Vomiting: There are some symptoms and conditions that are somewhat like vomiting, but are not really true vomiting:

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Back to: « Vomiting

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Causes of vomiting

Vomiting can also be a symptom of diabetes, heart attack or a disease in the brain. It is very common in pregnancy.

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Causes of vomiting in children

There are a number of possible causes of vomiting in children, which are described below.

Source: NHS Choices UK2

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Causes of vomiting in babies

These include:

  • gastroenteritis
  • a food allergy or milk intolerance
  • gastro-oesophageal reflux - where stomach contents escape back up the gullet
  • too big a hole in the bottle teat, which causes your baby to swallow too much milk - read more bottle feeding advice
  • accidentally swallowing something poisonous
  • congenital pyloric stenosis - a condition present at birth where the passage from the stomach to the bowel has narrowed, so food is unable to pass through easily; this causes projectile vomiting
  • a strangulated hernia - your baby will vomit frequently and cry as if they are in a lot of pain; this should be treated as a medical emergency
  • intussusception (where the bowel telescopes in on itself) - as well as vomiting, your baby may look pale, floppy and have symptoms of dehydration

Source: NHS Choices UK3

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Morning Sickness: Many women have some nausea or vomiting, or "morning sickness," particularly during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

However, hyperemesis gravidarum occurs when there is severe, persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Source: CDC4

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Heart attack: Unexplained nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) or vomiting

Women are twice as likely as men to experience nausea, vomiting, or indigestion during their heart attack. These feelings are often written off as having a less serious cause. Remember, nausea and vomiting may be signs that something is seriously wrong, especially if you have other symptoms.

If you have any one of these symptoms and it lasts for more than five minutes, call 9-1-1 for emergency medical care. Even if your symptoms go away in less than five minutes, call your doctor right away—it could be a sign that a heart attack is coming soon. Don't waste time trying home remedies or waiting for the feelings to pass on their own. Remember, quick treatment can save your life.

Source: OWH (DHHS)5

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Malaria: The initial symptoms of malaria are flu-like.

These symptoms are often mild and can sometimes be difficult to identify as malaria.

Source: NHS Choices UK6

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Phenylketonuria: Other symptoms of untreated PKU include:

  • recurrent vomiting

Source: NHS Choices UK7

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Subdural hematoma: Symptoms of a subdural haematoma can include:

  • feeling and being sick

Source: NHS Choices UK8

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Gastroenteritis: Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is an infection of the gut. It's a common cause of vomiting in children and usually lasts a few days.

Source: NHS Choices UK9

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Food allergies: Food allergy

Food allergies can cause vomiting in children, as well as other symptoms, such as a raised, red, itchy skin rash (urticaria) and swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips, tongue or the roof of the mouth.

Watch out for foods that may bring on vomiting and see your GP for a diagnosis if you think your child may have a food allergy.

Source: NHS Choices UK10

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Infections: Other infections

Vomiting can sometimes be a sign of an infection other than gastroenteritis, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), middle ear infections, pneumonia or meningitis.

Contact your child's GP if they're vomiting and experiencing additional symptoms of an infection, such as a high temperature (fever) and irritability.

Source: NHS Choices UK11

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Appendicitis: Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a painful swelling of the appendix, a finger-like pouch connected to the large intestine. It causes severe tummy pain that gets worse over time.

If your child has tummy pain that's gradually getting worse, contact your GP, local out-of-hours service or NHS 111 immediately. You should call 999 for an ambulance if they have pain that gets worse quickly and spreads across their tummy.

In most cases of appendicitis, the appendix will need to be surgically removed as soon as possible.

Source: NHS Choices UK12

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Poisoning: Poison

Accidentally swallowing something poisonous can cause your child to vomit. If you think this is the case, contact your GP immediately or take your child to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department.

Source: NHS Choices UK13

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Wheat sensitivity: Bread-related gut symptoms

"Probably one-third of patients in my allergy clinic complain of digestive symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain after eating bread," says Isabel Skypala PhD, specialist allergy dietitian at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.

She says allergy is unlikely to be the culprit, but bread-related symptoms are real and wheat could be to blame.

"Some people find certain foods are simply hard to digest and wheat appears to be one of those," she explains.

Read more about food intolerance.

Source: NHS Choices UK14

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Rotavirus: Rotavirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in infants and very young children.

Source: GOV.UK15

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Some causes may include:16 Causes of Vomiting:

Causes List for Vomiting

List of possible causes of Vomiting or similar symptoms may include:17

... Full Causes List for Vomiting »

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  1. Source: New Zealand Health: your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ vomiting
  2. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ vomiting-children-babies/ 
  3. ibid.
  4. Source: CDC: reproductivehealth/ maternalinfanthealth/ pregcomplications.htm
  5. Source: OWH (DHHS): heartattack/ symptoms.html
  6. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ malaria/ symptoms/ 
  7. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ Phenylketonuria/ 
  8. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ Subdural-haematoma/ 
  9. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ vomiting-children-babies/ 
  10. ibid.
  11. ibid.
  12. ibid.
  13. ibid.
  14. Source: NHS Choices UK: Livewell/ digestive-health/ Pages/ cutting-out-bread.aspx
  15. Source: GOV.UK: government/ collections/ rotavirus-guidance-data-and-analysis
  16. Source: Human Phenotype Ontology
  17. Source: Algorithmically Generated List

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.