By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Throwing up, or vomiting, is one of the most unpleasant experiences in life and not something most of us want to repeat. Throwing up is the forcible emptying of your stomach contents through your mouth and it is your body's way of getting shot of nasty substances in the stomach. A one-off vomiting session is bad enough but what happens if you keep throwing up? Is there something seriously wrong or can you do anything to avoid throwing up again?
Why Do You Throw Up?
Vomiting is not a disease but a symptom of many different conditions. Therefore, you could be throwing up for a variety of reasons. Conditions that have you rushing to the toilet bowl include motion sickness or seasickness, food poisoning (gastroenteritis), gallbladder disease, infections, gastroparesis or slow stomach emptying, migraine, appendicitis, vertigo and norovirus. Pregnant women often throw up (according to the UK's National Health Service vomiting occurs in 25 to 55 percent of pregnancies).
You may also throw up when exposed to strong smells, or when you are suffering severe emotional stress.
Overeating and over-indulging in alcohol are common reasons for vomiting. More serious reasons for throwing up include heart attack, brain tumor or brain injury, ulcers and some forms of cancer.
Who Throws Up More -Men or Women?
Men and women are roughly equal when it comes to suffering from prolonged or serious vomiting. One of the most common causes of throwing up, the norovirus, strikes almost 21 million Americans every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In some cases women throw up a lot more than men. For example, women are two to three times more likely than men to throw up after surgery, according to a study in 1961 by J.W. Bellville.
Women are also and are more likely to become nauseous because of motion sickness. About 27 percent of women get motion sickness and throw up compared to 16.8 percent of men according to a 1997 study from Panjab University in India..
Is Throwing Up Dangerous?
In most cases throwing up is harmless and will pass within a few hours. But sometimes vomiting can signal a serious illness or condition like heart attack, concussion, appendicitis, brain tumor or meningitis.
How do you know when vomiting is a sign of something more serious? Seek medical help if you have been throwing up for more than one day or if any of these other symptoms are present at the same time - blood in the vomit, severe headache or a severely stiff neck, confusion and lethargy, severe abdominal pain, high fever, or head injury.
If you throw up a lot you may be at risk of dehydration although children are more at risk of this than adults. To avoid dehydration and calm nausea the Cleveland Clinic suggests consuming small amounts of clear liquids containing a small amount of sugar, which calms the stomach, or taking sports drinks that contain electrolytes which help replace lost salts.
If you can rule out serious illness as a cause of your vomiting there are several steps to take to remedy the situation and stop throwing up. We looked at the medical evidence to give you eight natural remedies for throwing up.
1. Ginger Helps Treat People Who Throw Up
Ginger is said to calm nausea - the feeling you often get right before throwing up - and can help decrease vomiting. A test of ginger against motion sickness at sea in a 1998 study from Svendborg Hospital, Denmark showed 1g of ginger decreased vomiting in sea cadets, while a 1982 study by DB Mowrey and DE Clayson (Motion sickness, ginger, and psychophysics) also demonstrated ginger's benefits for reducing vomiting associated with motion sickness. And a 2001 study by Chiang Mai University, Thailand that looked at 70 women found ginger was more effective than placebo at treating morning sickness - throwing up during pregnancy. Researchers showed 250mg of powdered ginger three times a day for four days significantly reduced vomiting.
2. Ginkgo Biloba for Throwing Up
It seems that extract of gingko biloba can also help you if you are suffering from sickness and vomiting. French researchers looked at 67 people who suffered from vomiting associated with motion sickness and found that 160mg of gingko biloba every day significantly reduced the symptom of vomiting (JP Haguenauer, F Cantenot, H Koskas, et al. Treatment of balance disorders using Ginkgo biloba extract. A multicentre, double-blind, drug versus placebo study, 1986.)