Vomiting is a very common human phenomenon and it is not always serious. All of us have certainly vomited at some time or the other, and are quite familiar with the act of vomiting. At the same time, it is widely known that there are several types of vomiting, which can be caused due to a host of factors.
Vomiting from a biological point of view is serious if any of the following is observed:-
This article attempts to classify the different types of vomiting and suggests remedies for the same.
Vomiting is simply the forceful ejection of stomach and sometimes intestinal contents from the mouth. The matter that is propelled out of the mouth when a person vomits is known as vomitus. In medical terms, vomiting is known as emesis. Vomiting is not itself a disease; but it is the manifestation of some inner ailment. Hence, a person with vomiting problems must get him or herself diagnosed for the root cause of the problem.
The Sanskrit term for vomiting is chardhi. As in English, this term is applied for simple vomiting as well as for chronic vomiting.
Depending on the cause of the vomiting, there can be different types. The different types of vomiting are seen in the nature of the ejected material, i.e. the vomitus.
The simplest kind of vomiting is that which occurs when a person overeats. This vomitus contains fragments of undigested food that is expelled out of the digestive tract due to overloading in the stomach. Such a vomit is not harmful. In fact, it is beneficial because it frees up the overstuffed alimentary canal.
In people with chronic problems such as gastritis, gastric ulcers, esophageal or gastric varices and digestive tract hemorrhages, the person may vomit fresh blood. Such a condition is known as hematemesis. It is a potentially dangerous condition and requires medical treatment.
Sometimes the vomitus may contain brown particles which resemble coffee beans. These are actually fragments of blood in which the iron has already oxidized. This is the coffee ground vomiting, which is a symptom of several airborne infectious diseases.
Miserere or fecal vomiting occurs due to some kind of obstruction in the intestine. Due to this, food which is digested by the stomach cannot pass into the intestine and is regurgitated out. This is a very dangerous condition which may lead to emaciation of the person, and even death.
Vomiting is mostly caused due to a heavy or faulty diet. When one has eaten a very heavy meal, then vomiting is the way in which the stomach clears out the congestion. Apart from this, vomiting can also be caused due to several diseases. Some of the diseases or conditions that can cause vomiting are:-
Ayurveda recognizes five types of chardhi. They are as follows:-
Vataja , i.e. due to vata dosha vitiation
Pittaja , i.e. due to pitta dosha vitiation
Kaphaja , i.e. due to kapha dosha vitiation
Tridhoshaja , i.e. due to vitiation of all the three doshas
Dvishthratha Samyogaja , i.e. due to food poisoning
Whatever be the cause of the emesis, the act of vomiting follows the same routine.
(i) The first observed symptom is that of nausea. Nausea is the feeling of vomiting. This is felt by a churning feeling in the stomach and increased salivation in the mouth. During nausea, there is reverse peristalsis in the proximal end of the small intestine, which is instrumental in reversing the flow of food upwards into the stomach and the esophagus. Nausea is accompanied by decreased mobility within the stomach.
(ii) Nausea is almost always followed immediately by retching. While retching, the person can feel the vomitus build up in the esophagus and push the glottis in the reverse position. Retching can be punctuated with short barking noises which are due to the pressure the vomitus exerts on the larynx. Spasms are felt in the abdominal area when a person is retching.
(iii) The final stage is the actual phase of vomiting. The vomitus is expelled out of the gullet with a high degree of force. There may be more than one installments of the expulsion of vomitus, but the first installment is the most voluminous. After several bouts of the expulsion, only the saliva and/or bile are ejected out of the mouth. The aftertaste of vomiting is a sour taste in the mouth due to the passing of stomachic acids.
Since chardhi is caused due to so many different types of vitiations of the doshas, the symptoms are also markedly different from each other. The following table elucidates the different types of symptoms:-
In general cases, there are no complications of vomiting. However, if a lot of water is lost during the vomiting act, then it may lead to dehydration. In such cases, the loss of water should be replenished quickly or there could even be death of the person.
Prolonged vomiting can cause drastic changes in the acid-base balance of the person, which could also be fatal.
In severe cases, vomiting can cause a serious type of pneumonia called as aspiration pneumonia. This can happen when the contents of the stomach repeatedly enter into the bronchial tract.
A person can be forewarned that he or she is about the vomit. When the feeling of nausea begins, the person can take some preventive measures that the vomiting may not occur. The following are some tips:-
First and foremost, all activity must be stopped when the nauseous feeling sets in. While moving, the person can aggravate the chances of vomiting.
One must sit down on a comfortable chair or sofa. The elbows must be propped on the knees and the head supported in the palms of the hand. Eyes must be closed. This position must be held until the feeling of nausea passes away.
Water sweetened with a little sugar is somewhat effective in controlling vomiting in children.
Biting a piece of some fruit can also keep vomiting under check. Read the following heading for a list of foods that help in controlling emesis.
If a person is prone to getting nauseous while traveling, then it is advisable to sit on a middle seat. Looking out of the side windows with the landscape running behind is detrimental to nausea.
Do not exercise right after a heavy meal. Similarly, one must not go swimming immediately after a heavy meal.
Vomiting is a very common issue in children. This is because children are still getting used to different foods, and some of them may not initially agree with their digestive systems. In order to prevent children from vomiting, the following preventive measures can be undertaken:-
Children must not be fed too many snacks. Also, two snacks having different tastes must not be mixed together.
Care must be taken while giving soft drinks to children. Some drinks can cause vomiting in children when given along with solid foods.
Children must be taught proper table manners. Playing with food should be discouraged. Also, children must be taught to relax while eating and concentrate on the act of eating alone.
While traveling, children must be made to sit on the middle seat preferably, because the receding landscape may prove nauseous to them.
It must be noted that the above preventive measures are only for vomiting that is induced due to faulty eating habits. Chronic vomiting and vomiting that is caused due to diseases of the bodily system cannot be avoided. They can only be controlled by symptomatically treating the diseases.
Diet is one of the most important factors causing vomiting in people. Hence, care must be taken while eating and drinking. The following is a list of foods that can be had and those which must be avoided as regards vomiting.
Foods that help in controlling vomiting:-
A light diet is the best in controlling vomiting. If necessary, oil and spices can be put, but there must be a limit maintained. Oiliness in food can cause nausea.
Sugarcane juice and coriander water are traditionally included in the diet to reduce vomiting.
Water of cumin seeds and fennel seeds also has properties in reducing vomiting.
Some people believe chocolates and coffee reduces their urge to vomit.
Buttermilk is an essential part of the North Indian diet. The reason is buttermilk aids in digestion and thus reduces the chances of vomiting.
Dry grapes are effective in controlling vomiting.
If one is feeling nauseous, having a glass of pomegranate or tender coconut juice can reduce the feeling and hence curb the tendency to vomit.
Simple water sweetened with a little sugar is a quick remedy for stopping the nauseous feeling and the urge to vomit.
Foods that exacerbate nausea and vomiting:-
Ayurveda has a treatment for dietary vomiting almost since the time it was first developed as a branch of alternative medicine. There is a host of herbs that are useful in curing nausea and vomiting. And the best part is, most of these are readily available in any kitchen and one doesn’t have to search specially for them.
The following is a list of the herbs that are potent in reducing nausea and vomiting.