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    Stomach flu (Nausea and vomiting)


    Definition of stomach flu (nausea and vomiting)

    Nausea and vomiting are very common symptoms that can be caused by a wide variety of conditions. Nausea and vomiting most often are due to viral gastroenteritis — often mistakenly termed “stomach flu” — or the morning sickness of early pregnancy. Many medications can cause nausea and vomiting, as can general anesthesia for surgery. Rarely, nausea and vomiting may indicate a serious or even life-threatening problem.

    Causes of stomach flu (nausea and vomiting)

    Nausea and vomiting may occur separately or together. Common causes include:

    1. Chemotherapy
    2. Gastroparesis (poor functioning of stomach muscles)
    3. General anesthesia
    4. Migraine
    5. Motion sickness
    6. Overdose of alcohol, illicit substances or toxic substances
    7. Rotavirus
    8. Vertigo (false sense of motion or spinning)
    9. Viral gastroenteritis

    Other possible causes of nausea and vomiting include:

    1. Addison’s disease
    2. Alcoholic hepatitis
    3. Anaphylaxis
    4. Anorexia nervosa
    5. Appendicitis
    6. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
    7. Brain AVM (arteriovenous malformation)
    8. Brain hemorrhage
    9. Brain infarction
    10. Brain tumor
    11. Bulimia nervosa
    12. Chronic kidney disease
    13. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (condition that limits adrenal function)
    14. Crohn’s disease
    15. Cyclic vomiting syndrome
    16. Depression
    17. Diabetic ketoacidosis
    18. Dizziness
    19. Ear infection (middle ear)
    20. Food poisoning
    21. Frontal lobe seizures
    22. Gallstones
    23. Generalized anxiety disorder
    24. GERD — Gastroesophageal reflux disease
    25. Head injury
    26. Heart attack
    27. Heart failure
    28. Hirschsprung’s disease
    29. Hydrocephalus
    30. Hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid)
    31. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
    32. Hypoparathyroidism (underactive parathyroid)
    33. Intestinal ischemia
    34. Intestinal obstruction
    35. Intracranial hematoma
    36. Intussusception (in children)
    37. Irritable bowel syndrome
    38. Liver cancer
    39. Liver failure
    40. Meniere’s disease
    41. Meningitis
    42. Milk allergy (in infants and children)
    43. Nonulcer stomach pain
    44. Pancreatic cancer
    45. Pancreatitis
    46. Peptic ulcer
    47. Porphyria
    48. Pseudotumor cerebri
    49. Pyloric stenosis (in infants)
    50. Radiation therapy
    51. Retroperitoneal fibrosis
    52. Social anxiety disorder
    53. Stomach obstruction
    54. Strep throat (in children)
    55. Temporal lobe seizure
    56. Traumatic brain injury

    When to see a doctor

    Call 911 or emergency medical assistance

    Seek prompt medical attention if nausea and vomiting are accompanied by other warning signs:

    • Chest pain
    • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
    • Blurred vision
    • Fainting
    • Confusion
    • Cold, clammy, pale skin
    • High fever and stiff neck
    • Fecal material or fecal odor in the vomit

    Seek immediate medical attention

    Ask someone to drive you to urgent care or the emergency room if:

    • Nausea and vomiting are accompanied by pain or a severe headache, especially if you haven’t had this type of headache before
    • You’re unable to eat or drink anything for 12 hours or your child hasn’t been able to keep liquids down for eight hours
    • You have signs or symptoms of dehydration — excessive thirst, dry mouth, infrequent urination, dark-colored urine and weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness upon standing
    • Your vomit contains blood, resembles coffee grounds or is green

    Schedule a doctor’s visit

    Make an appointment with your doctor if:

    • Vomiting lasts more than two days for adults, 24 hours for children under age 2 or 12 hours for infants
    • You’ve had bouts of nausea and vomiting for longer than one month
    • You’ve experienced unexplained weight loss along with nausea and vomiting

    Take self-care measures while you wait for your appointment with your doctor:

    • Take it easy. Too much activity and not getting enough rest might make nausea worse.
    • Stay hydrated. Take small sips of cold, clear, carbonated or sour drinks, such as ginger ale, lemonade and water. Mint tea also may help.
    • Avoid strong odors and other triggers. Food and cooking smells, perfume, smoke, stuffy rooms, heat, humidity, flickering lights, and driving are among the possible triggers of nausea and vomiting.
    • Eat bland foods. Start with easily digested foods such as gelatin, crackers and toast. When you can keep these down, try cereal, rice, fruit, and salty or high-protein, high-carbohydrate foods. Avoid fatty or spicy foods. Wait to eat solid foods until about six hours after the last time you vomited.
    • Use over-the-counter (OTC) motion sickness medicines. If you’re planning a trip, OTC motion sickness drugs, such as Dramamine or Rugby Travel Sickness, may help calm your queasy stomach. For longer journeys, such as a cruise, ask your doctor about prescription motion sickness adhesive patches, such as scopolamine (Transderm-Scop).

    If your queasiness stems from pregnancy, try nibbling on some crackers before you get out of bed in the morning.