How to Stop Throwing Up When You're Sick

Vomiting is awful. There's no denying it. There aren't many illnesses that make you feel worse than when you have some sort of stomach virus; you just want to know how to make it stop.

Before you start treating your vomiting, make sure you know what is causing it. How you treat vomiting very much depends on the cause.

If your symptoms are caused by a simple stomach virus and you are looking for ways to get it under control, you have come to the right place. We'll take you through each step so you can figure out how to control your vomiting and get to feeling better quickly.

how to stop throwing up when you're sick
​Illustration by JR Bee, Verywell

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 vomiting, don't attempt 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 after vomiting reduces the chances that you will vomit once you start eating and drinking again.


Drink Fluids to Prevent Dehydration

After you have let your stomach rest for 15 to 20 minutes, if you have not vomited again, you can take small sips of liquid every five to 10 minutes.

The best fluids to try include:

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

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

If you are treating vomiting in a small child, be careful not to let him or her drink a lot of fluid all at once. It may be easier to control the amount by giving spoonfuls of liquid or using a syringe rather than a cup or bottle.

If vomiting begins again after introducing fluids, go back to Step 1. If you (or your child) is able to tolerate small sips of fluid, you can slowly increase the amount you drink with each sip.


Progress to the BRAT Diet

If you or your child is able to tolerate clear liquids without further vomiting, you may be ready to start eating. This should not be done too quickly. Be sure you are able to keep fluids down for eight to 12 hours before attempting to eat anything.

If, after eight to 12 hours, you have not vomited and feel like you can eat something, start with bland, starchy foods. Foods that are rich and heavy or acidic should be avoided until you are completely recovered.

The BRAT diet is a guideline to help you figure out the best foods to eat when you have been vomiting. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

The BRAT diet suggests bland foods that are easy to digest when you have a stomach bug. These are not the only foods that you can eat, but provide good examples so you will know where to start.

If you start vomiting again once you begin the BRAT diet, go back to Step 1.


Progress to a Normal Diet

If you were vomiting but have been able to keep both clear liquids and bland foods (BRAT diet) down, you may be ready to progress to a normal diet. But it will most likely be a day or two after you have stopped vomiting before you are ready to resume eating your normal diet.

Once you decide you can tolerate your normal diet again, take it slowly even if you feel better. If you start to feel nauseated after eating but do not vomit again, go back to the BRAT diet.

If you return to your normal diet and start vomiting again, go back to Step 1 and call your healthcare provider.


Treating Vomiting With Medications

Sometimes, even when you follow all of the proper steps to help control your vomiting, it just won't stop. When this happens, you may need medication to help control it.

There are prescription medications available to help control vomiting. Depending on your situation, your healthcare provider may decide that one of them will help you feel better. They may be used to prevent dehydration or help you get rehydrated if dehydration has already occurred:

  • Phenergan (promethazine) is a prescription antihistamine that can also be used to control nausea and vomiting. It is not often used in children because one of the side effects is extreme drowsiness.
  • Zofran was developed to treat severe nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy. It has fewer side effects than Phenergan and is now frequently used to treat vomiting from illness as well.

There are also over-the-counter (OTC) medications that are marketed to treat "upset stomach" such as Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate. These medications coat the lining of the stomach but are unlikely to stop vomiting if you have a stomach virus.

OTC Precautions for Children and Teens

Over-the-counter anti-nausea medications that contain bismuth subsalicylate (including Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate) should never be given to children under the age of 12 or anyone under the age of 18 who has recently had the flu or chickenpox due to the chance of developing Reye's Syndrome.


If Your Vomiting Is Still Not Under Control

If you are unable to control your vomiting using the first four steps outlined in this guide, contact your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for you. You will most likely need to be seen so you can be checked for dehydration and to determine what is causing your uncontrolled vomiting.

If your healthcare provider decides that you need medication, he or she will be able to tell you which one is best for your situation.

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Article Sources
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