Most people are probably familiar with vomiting. There is hardly anyone who has never been sick in his life and then vomited. According to the definition, vomiting is a case of the stomach contents being flushed out through the mouth – and with them the triggering factors such as bacteria, viruses or toxins. The body tries to get rid of harmful substances as quickly as possible. Vomiting is therefore a protective reaction of the body and a natural reflex.
Vomiting is only a symptom that something in the body is wrong and not an illness in its own right. Vomiting can have very different causes. Often the trigger is harmless, for example if you have eaten something wrong. However, vomiting can also be the accompanying symptom of a serious illness. Most people initially feel a feeling of nausea, which is very unpleasant. The vomiting itself is then experienced by many as relief.
Children vomit more often than adults. Their digestive system is much more sensitive and reacts more cautiously. Especially small children are affected by vomiting because they are not yet used to many food components and dishes.
The classic “burping” of a baby shortly after a milk or porridge meal is not considered vomiting. A small amount of the meal comes back up. This spitting or spitting is normal because the upper sphincter muscle of the stomach to the esophagus is not yet fully developed in the first months of life.
Vomiting: There are many causes
There are countless causes for vomiting. In most cases the reasons are harmless, but not always. Sometimes vomiting is also a warning signal for a serious illness. The causes of vomiting can be found in various organ systems – from the gastrointestinal tract to the heart. However, pregnancy, stress or too much alcohol can also trigger discomfort and vomiting. Even the psyche can be the cause. The most important causes are listed below!
Vomiting: Poisoning and intolerance as causes
- Food poisoning, for example by spoiled food or contaminated drinks (mostly bacteria), fungi or plants. Those affected vomit after eating.
- Poisoning by harmful substances, chemicals
- Food intolerances: Lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance (celiac disease)
- Food allergies, e.g. to nuts or shellfish
- Excessive alcohol consumption, alcohol poisoning
- drug abuse, for example heroin, cocaine, ecstasy
- Excessive consumption of caffeine and nicotine
- Drugs, for example chemotherapy (cytostatics) or digitalis preparations for heart disease; radiation therapy for cancer
Causes of vomiting in the gastrointestinal tract and abdomen
- Too much food, the body may react with nausea and vomiting after eating
- Gastro-intestinal infection (“gastro-enteritis”, gastroenteritis): The causes are often bacteria, viruses and other pathogens
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), pancreatic cancer
- Peritonitis, for example, after the perforation of a stomach ulcer – it is life-threatening gastritis
- irritable stomach, irritable bowel
- Acute abdomen: Very severe abdominal pain, hard abdominal wall, nausea, vomiting
- Liver inflammation
- Gallstones and biliary colic
- Kidney stones and renal colic
- Inflammation of renal pelvis
- Disorders in the gastrointestinal passage, for example due to constriction or obstruction
- Ulcers or tumors in the stomach and duodenum
- diverticula in the pharynx and the feeding tube
Vomiting: Causes in the nervous system, circulation, ears and eyes
- increased brain pressure, for example in the case of a brain tumor
- Meningitis (inflammation of the meninges)
- encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
- Stroke, cerebral hemorrhage
- concussion, for example when vomiting occurs after a fall on the head
- Travel sickness, for example on the ship, in the car or bus – the term travel sickness is well known
- Meniere’s disease: Disease of the gliding weight nerve and the organ of equilibrium in the inner ear; typical symptoms are dizziness, nausea and vomiting
- Persistent vertigo (neuritis vestibularis) due to a disturbed sense of balance
- Acute glaucoma attack (glaucoma)
- Derailment of blood pressure (hypertensive crisis)