Nausea and Vomiting
What is Nausea and Vomiting?
Nausea or feeling queasy can be a sign of gastrointestinal distress or illness, an allergic reaction, or an adverse reaction to something eaten. It can occur alone or may be accompanied by vomiting.
Nausea and vomiting can be the main signs and symptoms of a stomach virus (sometimes erroneously but commonly referred to as the “stomach flu”). These kinds of GI viruses are short lived and can last 12-24 hours or, at the most, a few days. GI viruses can be fairly easily communicated to others in a residential living environment.
What Do I Do?
Treatment of nausea and vomiting involves controlling the symptoms, primarily maintaining an adequate level of hydration. Beverages such as ginger ale, sports drinks, cola syrup are usually better tolerated than some others. Saltine crackers and bland food is better tolerated during recovery. Over-the-counter medications can be taken as needed according to directions.
A sports beverage to aid hydration, ibuprophen for headache, and resting your stomach until the effects of alcohol toxicity pass, usually within 12-24 hours, can treat nausea and vomiting that accompanies a hangover.
If symptoms are severe and dehydration occurs, contact your health care provider.
What is Diarrhea?
Diarrhea, characterized by loose, watery stools, is an extremely uncomfortable and disruptive problem. Like vomiting, it can be the body’s way of rejecting something that has been ingested. Most cases of diarrhea are mild. Some cases, however, may be symptomatic of something serious, such as food poisoning or a chronic digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.
- Eating foods that upset the digestive system
- Allergies to certain foods
- Infection by bacteria (the cause of most types of food poisoning)
- Infections by other organisms
- Radiation therapy
- Diseases of the intestines (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
- Malabsorption (where the body is unable to adequately absorb certain nutrients from the diet)
- Some cancers
- Laxative abuse
- Alcohol abuse
- Digestive tract surgery
- Competitive running
Signs and Symptoms
Mild Cases (typically resolves on its own):
- Abdominal bloating or cramps
- Thin or loose stools
- Watery stool
- Sense of urgency to have a bowel movement
Serious Cases (may be indicative of something more serious):
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood, mucus, or undigested food in the stool
- Sharp abdominal pain
- Weight loss
The vast majority of diarrhea cases resolve on their own within hours. When experiencing diarrhea it is extremely important to keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of non-caffeinated fluids, especially water. Many over-the-counter products exist to treat symptoms of mild diarrhea. If sharp abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody stools or a fever accompanies your diarrhea, see your doctor immediately.
Student Health Center
Go online at www.mymedstar.org
Appointments: (202) 687.2200
After Hours Physician On Call: (202) 444.PAGE (7243)
Ask for the Student Health Clinician on call