Vomiting – Causes of Vomiting
Vomiting is clinically known as emesis. In medical terms, Vomiting refers to the throwing up or forceful expulsion of the contents in one’s stomach through mouth. At a few times, the expulsion is also observed through the nose. The sensation of one is about to vomit is termed as Nausea. It always precedes the vomiting but do not always lead to vomiting.
Vomiting and regurgitation are interchangeably used. Regurgitation is the back-flow of the undigested food up to the esophagus and to the mouth. It neither involves any force nor the displeasure associated with vomiting. The causes of vomiting and regurgitation are also different.
Causes of Vomiting
There can be many causes resulting in vomiting. Ranging from gastritis to brain tumors, the list stating causes is long. Vomiting may be caused as a symptom of any of the following medical condition –
- Acute Gastrotitis
The word gastro refers to stomach and itis denotes inflammation. So below is the list of conditions causing inflammation of the stomach and leading to vomiting.
- Infections from virus or poor food pattern can also lead to vomiting.
- Stomach flu is also a common cause of emesis in many.
- Food poisoning caused by a bacterial toxin may also lead to significant signs of emesis.
- Consuming stomach irritants like smoking, tobacco chewing, alcohol, non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (like aspirin and ibuprofen) can also cause vomiting due to irritation to the stomach lining.
- Vomiting may also be seen in people with peptic ulcer disease.
- When the lining of the esophagus is irritated, then also it causes vomiting. This is termed as vomiting caused due to Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or reflux esophagitis).
- Bowel obstruction – Vomiting is a common sign to be observed during the inability to pass gas. Not having a proper bowel movement is a hallmark of bowel obstruction.
- Central causes
These include the signals from the brain which leads to nausea and vomiting. A few of such conditions are mentioned below.
- Headache caused during a migraine attack is mostly associated with nausea and vomiting.
- Motion sickness, benign postural vertigo, labyrinthitis or Meniere’s disease are a few of the conditions in the inner ear that can cause vomiting.
- When pressure increases inside the skull due to any injury or illness, vomiting may be caused. Increase in the intracranial pressure leads to swelling in the brain due to trauma, infection (encephalitis or meningitis) and tumor.
- Abnormal electrolyte and level of water in the bloodstream can also cause vomiting resulting from increase in intracranial pressure.
- Certain kind of sound or smell can also stimulate centrally mediated nausea. This is termed as Noxious stimulus.
- Heat related conditions like heat exhaustion, dehydration or extreme sunburn can also cause vomiting.
Gastroparesis in diabetic person may develop nausea. In gastroparesis, the stomach fails to empty properly. This occurs due to failure of the body nerves to send proper signals to the brain and from the brain.
When the level of blood sugars becomes abnormally high or extremely low, disturbing the insulin balance, vomiting is caused.
- Many diseases associated with intra-abdominal organs also develop symptoms of emesis. These include –
- inflammatory bowel disease
- gallbladder disease
- kidney diseases
- and some cancers
- Many disease which are not involved directly with the stomach or gastrointestinal tract can also cause vomiting. These include –
- Heart attack – a typical sign presenting angina
- Lung infections – infections like bronchitis or pneumonia may also cause vomiting.
- Sepsis – When a body infection passes through the bloodstream, it also lead to vomiting.
- Eating disorders – Bulimia patients shows self-induced vomiting. It occurs as a part of their psychiatric illness.
- Emesis can also occur as a common side effect of many medicines like – anti-inflammatory medicines, narcotic pain medications, anti-cancer medications and antibiotics.
- Vomiting is common in association with radiation therapy.
- Emesis is common to occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.
- The prime cause of this is the changes in the hormone level in the blood stream during pregnancy.
There can be several reasons of emesis in infants. And it is always a confusion to note if an infant is spitting up or vomiting. Spitting up may be differentiated among cases where the child spits out shortly after feeding even after a small portion. Other causes of vomiting associated with infants include –
- Forceful vomiting: Pyloric stenosis in infants can cause forceful vomiting after eating. This occurs generally in the first 2-3 months of birth. This is caused due to abnormal narrowing of the area where the stomach empties into the small intestine.
- Vomiting along with pain: intussusception is the pushing of a segment of the bowel into the adjacent segment. This results in uncontrollable crying in the infant, red or bloody stool.
- Viral infection: Viral infection is also a common cause of illness causing vomiting in infants.