Vomiting resident survival guide

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Vomiting Resident Survival Guide Microchapters

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Rinky Agnes Botleroo, M.B.B.S.

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Vomiting or Emesis means forcible emptying of the contents of stomach in which the stomach has to overcome the pressures that are normally in place to keep food and secretions within the stomach.Nausea and vomiting are most common causes for patients to seek primary care treatment, so it is very important to identify and properly manage the underlying problems causing vomiting.Though the mechanisms causing of nausea and vomiting are not completely understood, it is thought that the activation of a medullary vomiting centre by either afferent input from the gastrointestinal tract due to presence of local irritants or stimulation of the central chemoreceptor trigger zone by circulating emetogenic substances may cause vomiting.Dopamine and serotonin are the main transmitters both in central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract related vomiting. The most common causes of vomiting are Gastroenteritis, Migraine, Gastro peresis,Post operative, radiation and chemotherapy related vomiting, tumor, increased intracranial pressure,Hepatitis, Cholecystitis,Labyrithitis, Alcohol abuse, pregnancy induced vomiting. The management of most cases of nausea and vomiting depends on a good history and a detailed complete physical examination. Most episodes of vomiting that lasts for less than 48 hours have an existing triggering factor such as infection, viral illness, or food poisoning and can be managed by removing the triggering factor and by supportive therapy. Chronic and unexplained nausea and vomiting can be a difficult to treat as the cause is often obscure and requires special investigation.


Life Threatening Causes

Life-threatening causes of vomiting include[1]:

Common Causes

Common causes include: [3]


Shown below is an algorithm summarizing the diagnosis of Vomiting[4][5][6]

Patient comes with vomiting
Take complete history
Ask the following questions about vomiting

❑ How long have you had nausea and vomiting?

❑ How much have you vomited?

❑ What is the colour of the vomitus?

❑ Have you had previous episodes like this or this is the first time?

❑ Is there any foul smell of the vomitus?

❑ Is there only food particle or any other mucous/substance present with the vomitus?

❑ Have you notice any blood streaks mixed with vomitus?

Ask the related questions

❑ Did your nausea and vomiting occur right after eating?

❑ Do you have a fever?

❑ Do you take any other medication?

❑ Have you recently eaten out?

❑ Have you eaten any canned product?

❑ Have you suffered from headache or photophobia along with this vomiting?

❑ Did you have any abdominal pain?
Do general physical examination:

Look for signs of dehydration[7][8]

*Look for sunken eyes[8]

*Dry mouth/tongue, thirst[8]

*Dry skin

*Dizziness and a lack of focus[8]

*Orthostatic blood pressure drop,tachycardia[8]


*Dark urine or decreased urine output

*Increased capillary refill time[7]

*Poor skin turgor



Perform abdominal examination

*Look for any abdominal tenderness

*Presence of bowel sound
Do the following invetigations

Complete blood count


Liver function test

Pancreatic enzymes

USG of the abdomen if complains of abdominal pain.

Pregnancy test if applicable.

Abdominal X-ray and abdominal CT scan if any symptoms of mechanical obstruction

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy if mucosal diseases such as ulcer or mass are suspected.

Scintigraphic measures of solid phase gastric emptying (such as 99mTc-sulfur colloid in egg) are commonly used to evaluate gastric motion function in suspected gastroparesis.
If patient gives history of
History of

Abdominal pain

❑ Eating out or eating reheated canned food.

❑ Abdominal bloating

❑ Passage of loose stool

History of

History of



History of

Abdominal pain

❑ Triggered by smell, light or loud sound

❑ Unilateral headache usually, maybe bilateral which stays for 2-3 days.

❑ May have history of taking wine, chocolate.


❑ Altered behaviour

Vision changes

Weakness of any part of body/ paralysis

Metabolic disorder
Weight loss, loss of appetite
Pain related to food, radiates to the back
presence of jaundice, hepatomegaly
Gastric carcinoma


Shown below is the treatment of Vomiting. [9]

Medications used to treat Nausea and Vomiting[9]
Mechanism Name Dose Side effects
5-HT3 antagonists

4–8 mg q4–8 hours
1–2 mg q24 hours
0.075–0.25 mg q24 hours

10–20 mg q6–8 hours
10 mg q8–24 hours

5–10 mg q6–8 hours
12.5 –25 mg q4–6 hours
10–25 mg q4–6 hours
4–8 mg q8–12 hours

2.5–10 mg q6–8 hours
1–2 mg q8–12 hours
0.3–0.6 mg q24 hours
25–50 mg q24 hours
25–50 mg q6–8 hours
25–75 mg q8 hours
25–100 mg q6–8 hours
Benzodiazepines 0.5–2 mg
0.25–1 mg
4–8 mg q4–6 hours
0.625–1.25 mg q24hours
NK-1 Receptor Antagonists
80–125 mg q24 hours

Below is the algorithm showing the treatment of vomiting :

Patient comes with vomiting
Motion sickness with labirynthitis[10]
Post-operative or chemotherapy related vomiting
Pregnancy induced vomiting
Prokinetic medications
Doxylamine succinate/pyridoxine hydrochloride[11]
❑ Complementary and alternative therapies, such as ginger, acupressure, and vitamin B6[10]
Prokinetic Medications





  • Encourage patient to keep taking small sips of water frequently so that they don't become dehydrated.[12]
  • Recommend patients to take sweet drink such as fruit juice for replacing lost sugar, although they should avoid sweet drinks if those make them feel sick.
  • Recommend to have salty snacks, such as crisps, can help replace lost salt.


  • Patient who is vomiting continuously and also has past medical history of Diabetes corrected with Insulin should consult with their physicians before taking insulin as vomiting alters blood sugar levels.
  • Renal consultation should be acquired especially with severe hyponatremia

Template:WikiDoc Sources


  1. Hayes B, Murtagh C, Mann GB (August 2008). "A case of life-threatening nausea and vomiting". J Pain Symptom Manage. 36 (2): 206–10. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2007.10.022. PMID 18495417.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Frese T, Klauss S, Herrmann K, Sandholzer H (February 2011). "Nausea and vomiting as the reasons for encounter in general practice". J Clin Med Res. 3 (1): 23–9. doi:10.4021/jocmr410w. PMC 3194022. PMID 22043268.
  3. Scorza K, Williams A, Phillips JD, Shaw J (July 2007). "Evaluation of nausea and vomiting". Am Fam Physician. 76 (1): 76–84. PMID 17668843.
  4. Chepyala, Pavan; Olden, Kevin W. (2008). "Nausea and vomiting". Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology. 11 (2): 135–144. doi:10.1007/s11938-008-0026-6. ISSN 1092-8472.
  5. Hasler, William L; Chey, William D (2003). "Nausea and vomiting". Gastroenterology. 125 (6): 1860–1867. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2003.09.040. ISSN 0016-5085.
  6. Singh, Prashant; Yoon, Sonia S.; Kuo, Braden (2015). "Nausea: a review of pathophysiology and therapeutics". Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 9 (1): 98–112. doi:10.1177/1756283X15618131. ISSN 1756-283X.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Adult Dehydration - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf".
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Shaheen NA, Alqahtani AA, Assiri H, Alkhodair R, Hussein MA (December 2018). "Public knowledge of dehydration and fluid intake practices: variation by participants' characteristics". BMC Public Health. 18 (1): 1346. doi:10.1186/s12889-018-6252-5. PMC 6282244. PMID 30518346.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Singh P, Yoon SS, Kuo B (January 2016). "Nausea: a review of pathophysiology and therapeutics". Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 9 (1): 98–112. doi:10.1177/1756283X15618131. PMC 4699282. PMID 26770271.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Practical selection of antiemetics - PubMed".
  11. "The pharmacologic management of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy - PubMed".
  12. "Vomiting in adults | NHS inform".