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Nausea & Vomiting
Nausea is an unpleasant sensation characterised by loss of appetite and impending vomiting. Vomiting is the forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth.
There are few people who have not experienced severe nausea and vomiting at some stage. Vomiting is an unpleasant yet important defence mechanism by which the body attempts to rid itself of a variety of toxins and poisons. Vomiting occurs when the stomach and sometimes the upper part of the small intestine go into spasm and the contents of the gut are expelled via the oesophagus and mouth. There are a variety of reasons why nausea and vomiting can occur, some of which may be relatively harmless and others, which may indicate a serious medical condition.
Complications- Vomiting may produce complications that include; dehydration, malnutrition, electrolyte imbalance, tooth erosion and tears in the oesophagus producing blood in the vomit. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk of becoming dehydrated quickly from vomiting, especially if diarrhoea is present. If an infant is vomiting, seek urgent medical attention.
Vomiting that continues for more than two days may indicate a serious underlying condition and should be investigated by a Doctor. The vomiting of blood may indicate serious disease such as a haemorrhage from peptic ulcers or stomach cancer. Sometimes the trauma of vomiting can cause a small bleed, due to a tear in the gut lining. Very foul smelling vomit may indicate that a blockage exists somewhere in the digestive tract and this requires urgent medical attention.
As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted to diagnose and treat the condition. The cause of the nausea and/or vomiting will determine the treatment. If a toxic substance has been consumed or inhaled the patient must receive urgent medical attention. In some cases, such as pregnancy, motion sickness or to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy your Doctor may recommend some anti-nausea medication. To prevent dehydration your Doctor may recommend a rehydration solution to drink at regular intervals.
• A person with nausea and/or vomiting should avoid solid foods. When the symptoms are acute, it is best to continually sip water, electrolyte replacement drinks, herbal teas, strained broth or bouillon with added salt to help prevent or to treat mild dehydration.
• When the symptoms begin to improve, the patient may be able to tolerate warm fluids, cooked bland cereals, jelly, dry biscuits and other bland foods.
• It is advisable for the patient to avoid rich foods such as dairy products and meat as well as spicy, sugary and fatty foods for a period of time after symptoms have ceased. Re-introduce these types of foods gradually and avoid them if the symptoms recur. Foods, which are very high in fibre, may also aggravate the symptoms. Rice may be the most tolerated grain.
• When vomiting stops, include some garlic in the diet each day. Garlic has natural antibiotic properties that can help to combat infection.
• To restore a healthy balance of bowel flora, which can be disturbed by continual vomiting, diarrhoea and antibiotics, have fresh yoghurt containing acidophilus each day.
• Fresh fruit juices such as pawpaw, pineapple, apple and ginger juice, diluted with water may help Nausea and Vomiting.
• Ginger is an effective remedy for nausea. Add freshly grated ginger to a tea or into cooking.
Nutritional supplements are only to be used if the dietary vitamin intake is inadequate.
• Ginger is well known for its anti-nausea action. Ginger may stop nausea and vomiting and also cramps.
• Peppermint is believed to have a strong anti-nausea action and also acts as an anti-spasmodic herb (reduces cramps).
• Vitamin B6 and magnesium may help to prevent nausea, particularly during pregnancy
• Charcoal capsules may relieve nausea.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should only take anti-nausea medication or nutritional supplements under medical supervision. Certain substances may be harmful to the developing infant.
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Your Pharmacist can answer any queries you may have regarding your medication. If your medication is making you feel sick, ask your Pharmacist for advice.
2. If you are feeling nauseous and/or have been vomiting for more than 2 days it is important to see your Doctor or Pharmacist for advice.
3. If an infant or a child under 2 years of age is vomiting he/she should receive immediate medical attention to avoid complications such as dehydration.
4. Chronic vomiting, such as often occurs with morning sickness during pregnancy and certain eating disorders, can damage the teeth. Ask your Pharmacist for advice about ways to protect the teeth from erosion.
5. To avoid dehydration and the development of an electrolyte imbalance, your Pharmacist may recommend an oral rehydration powder. This is a powder that contains essential substances that are lost in large amounts during vomiting and diarrhoea. Water does not contain electrolytes and is not always an adequate means of rehydrating the body. Some tablets might be suggested to help stop vomiting.
6. If motion sickness is a problem it is advisable to take anti-nausea medication prior to travelling. Motion sickness is much easier to prevent than it is to treat.
7. Over eating and/or drinking alcohol can produce symptoms of nausea. In these cases your Pharmacist may recommend an antacid to provide relief.
8. Acidophilus powder or capsules may help to restore a healthy balance of bowel flora after vomiting has ceased. This balance can be disturbed by continual vomiting, diarrhoea and antibiotics. An overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria in the bowel may result in digestive problems and/or thrush.
9. If your diet is inadequate, consider the nutritional supplements suggested in this topic.