Causes of Vomiting

Vomiting Image - Masterfile

Causes for vomiting include the following:

  • Anesthesia
  • Chemotherapy (drugs used to treat cancer)
  • Exposure to unpleasant sights, smells, mental images
  • Fever
  • Illness (e.g., viruses, intestinal parasites)
  • Ingestion of alcohol, drugs, poisons, or other toxic substances (e.g., food poisoning)
  • Intestinal disorders (e.g., diverticular disease, intestinal blockage)
  • Liver disease and biliary system disorders (e.g., gallbladder disease)
  • Motion sickness, sea sickness
  • Nervous system disorders (e.g., migraine, meningitis, brain cancer)
  • Overeating
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe stress
  • Stomach disorders (e.g., indigestion, ulcer, gastric cancer)
  • Toxic conditions (e.g., uremia)

In certain cases, vomiting is induced (i.e., produced on purpose) to remove toxic substances from the body. This can be done by administering an emetic drug (e.g., syrup of ipecac) or by stimulating the back of the throat. Bulimia nervosa, also called bulimia, is an eating disorder characterized by repeatedly eating abnormally large amounts of food in a short period of time and then trying to compensate for the binge by purging (e.g., engaging in self-induced vomiting).

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Feb 2008

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015