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, there are steps you can take. This article will take you through them so you can stop throwing up and get to feeling better quickly.

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

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)
  • 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 drink small sips of fluid, slowly add more to the amount you drink with each sip.

3

Start on the BRAT Diet

If you or your child is able to keep clear liquids down 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, after eight to 12 hours, you feel like you can eat something, start with bland, starchy foods. Foods that are heavy, fat, or acidic—think tomatoes or oranges—should be avoided until you are better.

You may have heard of the BRAT diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, because these foods are good choices when you are sick. The BRAT guidelines can help you choose the right foods to stop throwing up.

The BRAT diet suggests bland foods that are easy to digest when you have a stomach bug. Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (the BRAT foods) are not the only foods that you can eat, but they are good examples so you will know where to start.

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 (BRAT diet) 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 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.

Recap

So far, you've taken steps to treat your vomiting by drinking only clear liquids and then trying bland foods that won't upset your stomach. If you're ready for your normal foods, great, but go slowly. If you're still throwing up, then over-the-counter drugs and a call to your doctor may be your next move.

5

Treat Vomiting With Medications

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.

Summary

You'll likely feel better after following these steps. Small amounts of fluid, and then foods that are "safe" for your stomach, will help stop most vomiting. But if you can't stop by using what you've learned here, 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.

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Article 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.

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