Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms that can be caused by numerous conditions. Nausea and vomiting most often are due to viral gastroenteritis — often mistakenly termed "stomach flu" — or the morning sickness of early pregnancy.


  • Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms that can be caused by numerous 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.


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

  • Chemotherapy
  • Gastroparesis (a condition in which the muscles of the stomach wall don't function properly, interfering with digestion)
  • General anesthesia
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Motion sickness: First aid
  • Morning sickness
  • Migraine
  • Rotavirus
  • Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
  • Vestibular neuritis

Other possible causes of nausea and vomiting include:

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Anaphylaxis (in children)
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Appendicitis
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Brain tumor (both cancerous and noncancerous)
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Concussion
  • Cholecystitis
  • Cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation)
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Depression (major depressive disorder)
  • Dizziness
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Ear infection (middle ear)
  • Food poisoning
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Heart failure
  • Gallstones
  • Fever (in children)
  • Hydrocephalus (a congenital brain abnormality)
  • Hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid)
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Hypoparathyroidism (underactive parathyroid)
  • Intestinal ischemia
  • Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
  • Intracranial hematoma
  • Intussusception (in children)
  • Duodenitis (inflammation of the initial portion of the small intestine)
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver failure
  • Medications (including aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, oral contraceptives, digitalis, narcotics and antibiotics)
  • Meniere's disease
  • Meningitis
  • Milk allergy (in infants and children)
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Pseudotumor cerebri
  • Pyloric stenosis (in infants)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Severe pain
  • Traumatic brain injury

When to see a doctor

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

  • 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 an 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 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

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 Stugeron or Kwells Travel Sickness tablets, may help calm your queasy stomach. 
  • If your queasiness stems from pregnancy, try nibbling on some crackers before you get out of bed in the morning.