Nausea & Vomiting: When To Seek Care

Most of us have experienced episodes of nausea and vomiting. When does this become a concern, and merit a trip to the doctor?

Usually, vomiting is harmless, self-limited, and benign… but not always. Furthermore, medically serious or not, vomiting is – at the very least – highly unpleasant. Up until just a few years ago, there wasn’t much in the way of home treatment that your doctor could offer. But fairly recently, oral drugs became available which can be absorbed through the skin on the inside of your cheek (the buccal mucosa.) This has enabled many to have their symptoms relieved while avoiding a trip to the hospital for IV medications and fluids.

What’s all the vomiting about?

Vomiting in and of itself is not a disease. It is a symptom which can help us determine what disease might be lurking. The list of possible causes for vomiting is lengthy, and depends on your age and your past medical/surgical history. Theses causes can range from head injury to pregnancy, from intestinal obstruction to food poisoning, from a life-threatening complication of diabetes to a sign that you are having a heart attack.

When should you see the doctor?

If the vomiting does not resolve after 6-12 hours, or if you are suffering from relentless episodes and/or simultaneously dealing with diarrhea, then you should consider being evaluated to treat or ward off complications of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. An inability to hold down liquids in the presence of scant urination for greater than 6 hours, dry mouth, or feelings of lightheadedness with arising – these are all signs that you may be becoming dehydrated and in need of fluids and control of nausea and vomiting.

When is immediate evaluation indicated?

If any of the following are present, you should seek care promptly:
– Fever
– Abdominal pain
– Bleeding
– Lethargy
– Very young or very old age
– Vomiting duration greater than one day
– Rapid breathing rate or heart rate

At AFC Urgent Care, you will be seen in short order. In the absence of a true emergency, your symptoms can be lessened or resolved with fluids and/or oral medications.