Vomiting, unlike most symptoms that sufferers may experience, is very physical and evidential. You cannot deny an event as obvious as having vomited. So, in many ways, vomiting is both a sign and symptom of diseases. It’s in this respect that vomiting differs from such other symptoms as pain, headache and nausea, all of which are not as visible as an act of vomiting.
What is vomiting? Vomiting simply implies a forceful act of bringing the content of the gut or the stomach into the outside world. Frequently, vomiting is an unpleasant, unwanted and filthy act. The person doing the act of vomiting does not really want to do so. Even in deliberate act of inducing vomiting, there is an underlying disease that is causing it.
What causes vomiting?
Vomiting can be a reflex, meaning you did not plan for it and it comes so suddenly that the victim is caught unawares. In another instance, vomiting may be induced by the sufferer or may be induced for purposes of treatment by doctors as in cases of having ingested poison. In all cases, the act of vomiting is triggered for the purpose of protecting the body from a perceived harm even though in some cases, deliberately inducing vomiting is unjustified as in disease state called bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa. Except as mentioned, vomiting is generally a protective event that tends to shield the body from poisons and other harmful substances or vomiting allows the body to adjust to an unpleasant situation.
For these reasons and explanations, we can now explore the causes of vomiting. There is no denying the fact that everyone has vomited or will vomit in future. Children of all ages vomit. So we have all done it either due to overfeeding, illness or sheer attention-seeking behaviour.
In children, vomiting may be due to, as I mentioned, overfeeding especially in the newborn and infants. On the other hand, vomiting may be a sign of obstruction along the path of food ingestion and digestion. Yet, in both situations of, say as the child is growing up or in the early part of a newborn’s life, vomiting may be due to infection of both viral and bacterial origin. Deformities in the brain/head, gut, kidney, liver and other bodily organs may give rise to acts of vomiting. Unpleasant food may be rejected by the body via the acts of vomiting. As the child is growing up, the causes of vomiting may change to illness that relates to the age such as cold, both lower and upper respiratory tract infection, infection of any organ around the head such as ear trouble and meningitis. Infections in any part of the body may give rise to vomiting. In our environment, malaria and typhoid stands out.
What causes vomiting in adults?
In general, what causes vomiting in children may also be responsible for vomiting in adults. In women, vomiting may be the first sign of pregnancy. Very often, this type of sickness may be embarrassing to the woman especially young girls who are getting pregnant for the first time. Our mothers, traditionally, often detect either rightly or wrongly, a hidden pregnancy that is vigorously denied by the young teenage woman, by her visible, uncontrollable act of episodic vomiting. In spite of such denial, our parents believe that a mere look at the face of the young girl plus her acts of sickness is, on the face of it, an irrevocable conclusion of pregnancy.
However, vomiting is common in pregnancy and is often the first of few signs of being pregnant. It happens in both experienced and non-experienced mothers. In few cases, vomiting in pregnancy can be very severe to warrant hospital admission. Diseases that are peculiar to women such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovarian torsion, cancers of reproductive tract that have migrated elsewhere may cause vomiting.
In men, infections, head injury, any organ diseases and food tract diseases may be responsible for vomiting. In both genders and in children, obstruction of the food digestive tract at any of its point may be leading to very severe vomiting. Appendicitis, which is a common inflammation of the appendix, is a well-known cause of sickness.
Further, drugs or medicines both legal and illegal, prescribed or not may be a cause of vomiting. Anything that goes through our mouth to our stomach may cause us to be sick. This includes bad or unpleasant food and water. Unpleasant or hurting memory, bad odour, poor taste and very revolting sighting of objects are all possible causes of vomiting.
Not the least, mental health issues including bulimia and anorexia nervosa, where victims may deliberately induce vomiting, are well known as causes of throwing up food and water.
What are the solutions?
Vomiting may be self-limiting. That is, the vomiting may settle and stop after a few episodes. A sudden or enduring violent or persistent vomiting requires urgent professional medical attention. You should seek advice accordingly. Do not delay. Where vomiting is due to known agent such as prescribed medications, ask your doctor for options. As I mentioned, vomiting may be a symptom of an underlying event including pregnancy, fear of school in children or attempt to avoid a bully or bad situation. Vomiting should be taken seriously in all cases.