Vomiting is a natural defense mechanism of the organism which allows the contents of the stomach to be evacuated by the mouth. What are the different types of vomiting? Their causes? When to worry and who to consult? Explanations by Pr Maximilien Barret, gastroenterologist at Cochin Hospital.
Definition: what is vomiting?
Vomiting corresponds to strong stomach contractionsfollowed byan expelling effort to empty its contents. They should not be confused with nausea, feelings of wanting to vomit, which precede them. “Vomiting is also distinct from the regurgitation that is observed in particular in babies, and which results in passive, spontaneous ascents of the liquid which is in the stomach, sometimes in the esophagus. These are two different phenomena which do not provide information on the same pathologies”. specifies Professor Maximilien Barret.
What are the different types of vomiting?
There are two types of vomiting:
► Acute vomitingwhich are most often due to viral gastroenteritis or food poisoning.
► Chronic vomitingwhich may be linked to a psychological (anorexia, bulimia, anxiety), metabolic (pregnancy), food intolerance or narrowing of the digestive tract cause.
Vomiting can be aqueous (water), bilious (bile), food Or hemorrhagic.
What causes vomiting?
Vomiting can occur in many situations:
► Digestive disorders: from the most benign to surgical emergency: gastroenteritis, indigestion, intestinal obstruction.
► Neurological disorders (brain tumor, meningitis, migraine, encephalitis, cerebral hemorrhage, head trauma).
► Taking certain medications, drugs and toxins such as alcohol.
► Metabolic disorders: diabetes, kidney failure or ionic imbalances.
► Surgical emergencies: an acute crisis occurring in the abdomen (appendicitis, pancreatitis) may cause transit to stop. “The intestine is as if paralyzed, there is no longer any evacuation of gas or stool, and the stomach can begin to empty of its contents (last food intake or secretions from the stomach)“, specifies the gastroenterologist.
► Psychological disorders: vomiting can be voluntarily provoked as in anorexia and bulimiaor occur indirectly in the event of psychological distress.
► The pregnancy (Mainly 1st trimester).
When to worry and who to consult?
In the vast majority of cases, vomiting has a benign cause. However, two situations should lead to urgent consultation:
► In case of so-called incoercible vomiting: vomiting is continuous and prevents the person from hydrating. This requires hospitalization for intravenous hydration.
► In case of chronic vomiting: if the vomiting persists beyond 72 hours, the question of a more serious cause arises, for example the obstruction of the digestive tract by a tumour.
► Breathe deeply : sometimes it reduces the urge to vomit
► lie down a few minutes
► Take antiemetics : “these drugs can have a prokinetic action, that is to say that they accelerate the motricity of the stomach and promote the purging of the stomach from below, or a central action which will reduce the urge to vomit. In general, this treatment works better on the nausea than on the vomiting itself.” says the specialist.
What foods to eat after vomiting?
“Vomiting tells us that the digestive tract is inflamed and cannot tolerate food. It is therefore not essential to eat after vomiting.. Better to wait to really feel the need, that is to say the feeling of hunger. In case of hunger, liquid foods containing salt and low in fat such as vegetable broth are to be preferred. The priority is to drink regularly, in small quantities, to rehydrate“, warns Professor Maximilien Barret.
Thanks to Pr Maximilien Barret, gastroenterologist at Cochin Hospital