Nausea and Vomiting

Many illnesses can cause stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. Some are mild and will pass by themselves, but others are serious and need medical attention.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Is the person an infant (<1 year) or a child?

  • Do you have a fever along with nausea and vomiting?

  • Along with nausea and vomiting, do you also have dark urine and/or a yellow discoloration of your skin or the whites of your eyes, or are your stools turning white along with other cold and flu-like symptoms?

  • Do you have cold and flu symptoms along with nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea?

  • Do you have a sharp pain that started in the middle of your abdomen by your belly button, but is now in the right lower quadrant, and have you lost your appetite?

  • Do you have a headache or stiff neck, and do normal amounts of light hurt your eyes?

  • Do you have pain in your right upper abdomen or do greasy foods make the pain worse?

  • Do you have a burning pain in your abdomen between your breastbone and belly button? Does the pain often get better after eating?

  • Did your sickness occur shortly after eating food? Did someone else also get the same symptoms after eating the same food?

  • Have you vomited blood and/or had black, tarry stools? Does your vomit look like coffee grounds?

  • Do you have a burning feeling in your lower chest, along with a sour or bitter taste in your throat and mouth, especially after eating?

  • Are you taking any medicine, herbs, or vitamins?

  • Have you missed a period or could you be pregnant?

  • Do you have diabetes or are you at risk of having diabetes?

  • Did you recently hit your head and now have a headache, blurred vision, or new numbness or tingling somewhere on your body?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • See Nausea and Vomiting in Infants and Children
  • Self Care

    Contact your doctor if you have a high fever (greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit) or your overall symptoms last for more than 10 days or if you are unable to tolerate liquids for more than 2 days.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have HEPATITIS, a disease that causes liver inflammation and is most commonly caused by a virus.


    Self Care

    See your doctor right away. Hepatitis needs to be treated to avoid permanent liver damage.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have viral GASTROENTERITIS (stomach flu).


    Self Care

    Drink plenty of fluids and get rest. Use an analgesic, such as acetaminophen to reduce fever. If your symptoms get worse or you don’t get any better after a few days, see your doctor. Contact your doctor if you have a high fever (greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit) or your symptoms last for more than 10 days or if you are unable to tolerate liquids for more than 2 days.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have APPENDICITIS, an inflammation or infection of the appendix, or a BOWEL OBSTRUCTION.


    Self Care

    EMERGENCY
    See your doctor or go to the emergency room right away. An infected appendix could rupture within 24 hours if left untreated.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have MENINGITIS, a serious infection of the membranes around the brain.


    Self Care

    EMERGENCY
    See your doctor or go to the emergency room right away. Delayed treatment could result in serious injury or death.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have GALLSTONES or CHOLECYSTITIS, an infection or inflammation of the gallbladder.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. Gallbladder and pancreas symptoms often come and go. You may still need medicine or surgery to take care of the problem. If the pain is intense or your fever is greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or persists for more than one day, see your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a PEPTIC ULCER or GASTRITIS caused by a bacterial infection from HELICOBACTER PYLORI.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. Use an antacid to relieve pain and discomfort. You may need antibiotics to treat the infection.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have FOOD POISONING caused by a toxin or bacteria from contaminated food. This is likely if someone else who ate the same food also became ill.


    Self Care

    Drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. Most episodes will clear up by themselves in 8 to 12 hours. If your symptoms are severe or you don’t get better, call your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a bleeding ULCER or another serious condition, such as CANCER.


    Self Care

    EMERGENCY
    See your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have HEARTBURN.


    Self Care

    Use an antacid to relieve pain and discomfort. If the pain or burning continue, or if you have symptoms most days of the week, call your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    Medicine or other supplements could be causing the nausea and vomiting as a side effect or adverse event.


    Self Care

    See your doctor and tell him or her about any medicine or supplements you are taking.


  • Diagnosis

    You may be PREGNANT.


    Self Care

    Use an in-home pregnancy test, and if it is positive, confirm it with your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have KETOACIDOSIS, usually caused by high blood sugar.


    Self Care

    Check your blood sugar if you have a glucometer and appropriate testing materials. See your doctor if your blood sugar is consistently and dramatically elevated (>300), if the symptoms are severe or last more than 24 hours. If you have not been diagnosed with diabetes and think you may be at risk, see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a serious HEAD or TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY, which is also known as a CONCUSSION. You may also have a BLEED on or around your brain.


    Self Care

    EMERGENCY
    See your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.


  • Self Care

    For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor right away.


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