Vomiting is a condition characterized by the forced usually involuntary expulsion of the contents of the stomach and, less commonly, of the duodenum.

It may be a one-time occurrence or it may be due to a substance or food that the stomach is unable to store.

But if the reflex emptying of stomach contents is periodic, it can be due to a number of serious diseases. And when it is frequent, it can cause dehydration.

This is a potentially life-threatening condition if timely measures are not taken.

What are the causes?

The condition is common. Eating too much food or drinking a lot of alcohol can make a person vomit. But this is not a cause for concern.

Reflex gastric emptying is not a disease, but rather a symptom of one, but this is not always the case. Some of the most common causes of this clinical presentation are:

• Food poisoning;
• Indigestion;
• Infections – related to bacterial and viral diseases;
• Seasickness;
• Pregnancy-related morning sickness;
• Headache;
• Use of medications with limited availability, ie prescription;
• Anesthesia;
• Conducting a cycle of chemotherapy;
• Crohn’s disease;

If frequent reflex emptying of stomach contents is not related to any of the above reasons, then it may be a symptom of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome /CEP/.

This condition is characterized by vomiting for 10 days. It is usually accompanied by nausea and a complete lack of energy and occurs most often in childhood.

According to a study conducted in the USA, the syndrome affects up to 2,000 out of every 100,000 children. And when left untreated, this condition can cause bouts of vomiting several times a year.

When should we seek emergency medical attention?

Under certain conditions, reflex emptying of stomach contents requires emergency medical attention.

You should seek medical attention immediately if you or someone around you:
• Vomits for more than 1 day;
• Suspect food poisoning;
• Experiences severe headache accompanied by neck stiffness;
• Feels severe abdominal pain;

Blood in the vomit is another reason to seek emergency medical services. The medical term for the condition is hematemesis, for vomiting blood it is taken:

• Vomiting large amounts of red-colored blood;
• Spitting up dark-colored blood;
• Coughing up a substance that looks like coffee grounds;

The passage of small amounts of blood through the mouth is not hematemesis. Vomiting of blood is often caused by an ulcer, ruptured blood vessels, or bleeding in the stomach.

It can also be caused by some types of cancer. The condition is often accompanied by dizziness. A person who vomits blood should contact a doctor immediately.


Dehydration is the most common complication of reflex gastric emptying through the mouth. When you vomit, not only food is thrown out of the stomach, but also fluids are lost.

Dehydration can lead to:

• Dry mouth;
• Fatigue;
• Darkening of urine;
• Decreased amount of diuresis;

Treatment of vomiting

In case of frequent reflex expulsion of stomach contents, your doctor may prescribe anti-emetic drugs.

Alternative remedies that can prevent future vomiting are: ginger and ginger beer, bergamot, lemongrass oil.

A change in diet can also help, for example:

• Eat lean foods;
• Eat less food at a single meal;
• Thin salty crackers prevent nausea;
• Drink ginger beer;

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