How to Stop Throwing Up

When you can't stop vomiting, you're at risk for dehydration and even damage to your esophagus. Each of these tips for how to stop throwing up have their place, but need to be done at the right time:

  • Rest your stomach
  • Try fluids before food
  • Eat a mild diet, like the BRAT diet
  • Gradually return to your normal way of eating
  • Medication

Trying certain strategies too soon can backfire and get you vomiting again.

This article will take you through the steps you can take to stop throwing up so you can get closer to feeling better, faster.

how to stop throwing up when you're sick

Verywell / JR Bee

1) Let Your Stomach Rest

When you are treating vomiting due to a stomach bug, or gastroenteritis, the first step is to let your stomach rest. After you stop throwing up, don't try to eat or drink anything for 15 to 20 minutes so you can allow your stomach time to recover.

Giving the muscles in your stomach time to rest will lower the chances that you will vomit once you start eating and drinking again.

2) Drink Fluids Before Trying Food

If you have not vomited again while you let your stomach rest, try to take small sips of liquid every five to 10 minutes.

The best fluids to try include:

  • Water
  • Sports drinks (such as Gatorade)
  • Electrolyte drinks (such as Pedialyte) for children

Drinks such as sodas and milk should be avoided until you are able to begin eating your normal diet.

If you are caring for a small child who is sick, be careful not to let them drink a lot of fluid all at once. It may be easier to keep an eye on those amounts by using a syringe or a spoon to give liquid, rather than a cup or baby bottle.

If vomiting begins again after you started fluids, go back to step 1. If you or your child can keep down small sips of fluid, slowly drink more with each sip.

3) Start on the BRAT Diet

If you or your child is able to handle clear liquids without throwing up, you may be ready to start eating. Don't do this too quickly, though. Be sure you are able to keep fluids down for eight to 12 hours before trying to eat.

If you feel like you can eat something by then, start with bland, starchy foods. Foods that are heavy, fat, or acidic—think tomatoes or oranges—should be avoided until you are better.

The BRAT diet includes bland foods that are easy to digest when you have a stomach bug. These include bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, though the diet can be modified with the addition of similar foods as well.

If you start throwing up again after you try these foods, go back to step 1.

4) Start a Normal Diet

If you are able to keep both clear liquids and bland foods down, you may be ready to move toward your normal diet. It will likely be a day or two after you have stopped throwing up before you fully return to it, though.

Once you decide you can eat again, take it slowly even if you feel better. If you start to feel sick after eating but do not vomit again, go back to the BRAT diet. If you do start throwing up again, go back to step 1 and call your healthcare provider.

5) Consider Medication, If Needed

Sometimes, even when you do all the right things, the vomiting just won't stop. When this happens, you may need help to control it.

There are prescription drugs that can help control vomiting. Depending on the case, a healthcare provider may decide that one of them will help you feel better. They may be used to keep you hydrated or replace the fluids you've already lost.

  • Phenergan (promethazine) is an antihistamine that can also be used to control nausea and vomiting. It is not usually used in children.
  • Zofran (ondansetron) was first used to treat severe nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy. It has fewer side effects than Phenergan and is often used to treat vomiting from other illnesses as well.

Some over-the-counter (OTC) medications, like Pepto-Bismol, are sold to treat "upset stomach." They coat the lining of the stomach but don't really keep you from throwing up if you have a stomach virus.

They also may contain bismuth subsalicylate and should never be given to children under the age of 12. If someone is under the age of 18 and recently had the flu or chickenpox, they should not take them either because of a chance of Reye's syndrome.

How to Stop Throwing Up While Pregnant

When you're pregnant, nausea and vomiting can be a daily occurrence. Fortunately, there are things you can do to stop throwing up while you're pregnant:

  • Avoid large meals. Instead, eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Take note of your triggers. If certain smells or foods make you nauseous, take steps to avoid them.
  • It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you've been vomiting. Ginger ale or ginger tea can help soothe your stomach.
  • Eat bland foods like crackers and toast.
  • If you have severe symptoms, call your healthcare provider at once. They may recommend anti-nausea medication. 

It may also be helpful to know that this symptom often disappears as your pregnancy progresses.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Most illnesses that cause vomiting resolve on their own. In some cases, however, vomiting can be a sign of something more serious. See a healthcare provider at once if:

  • You have symptoms of dehydration such as dry mouth, dark urine, and dizziness 
  • You're throwing up blood or your vomit looks like coffee grounds
  • You have a severe headache

Less urgently, you should see a healthcare provider if:

  • You've been vomiting for more than two days
  • Your child is one to two years old and has been vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • Your baby has been vomiting for more than 12 hours
  • You've been vomiting off and on for more than one month
  • You're experiencing ongoing nausea and vomiting with weight loss

Summary

You'll likely feel better after following these steps. Resting your stomach, sipping small amounts of fluid, and then eating foods that are "safe" for your stomach, will help stop most vomiting. But if these tips don't provide relief, call your doctor.

You will most likely need to be checked for dehydration and to find out the cause of your illness. If you need medicine, your doctor will be able to choose the right one and help you on the road to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you stop throwing up after food poisoning?

    Food poisoning often just needs to run its course. Many cases resolve in a day or two. While you're recovering, stick to bland foods and sip fluids slowly to stay hydrated.

  • How do you stop vomiting after drinking alcohol?

    If you're nauseous the morning after drinking, you may be dehydrated. Try slowly drinking sips of water. In some cases, vomiting can be a sign of alcohol poisoning. Call 911 for severe symptoms such as seizures, confusion, or difficulty remaining conscious.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Shields TM, Lightdale JR. Vomiting in childrenPediatrics in Review. 2018;39(7):342-358. doi: 10.1542/pir.2017-0053

  2. Weir S-BS, Akhondi H. Bland diet. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2021.

  3. Silverman RA, House SL, Meltzer AC, et al. Bimodal release ondansetron for acute gastroenteritis among adolescents and adults: a randomized clinical trialJAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(11):e1914988. doi: doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.14988

  4. Nemours Foundation. Reye's syndrome. Reviewed February 2019.

  5. Harvard Health Publishing. 7 steps to cure your hangover.

  6. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Understanding the dangers of alcohol overdose.

Additional Reading

By Kristina Duda, RN
Kristina Duda, BSN, RN, CPN, has been working in healthcare since 2002. She specializes in pediatrics and disease and infection prevention.