When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Call 911 or emergency medical assistance
Seek prompt medical attention if nausea and vomiting are accompanied by other warning signs:

  • Chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • High fever and stiff neck
  • Fecal material or fecal odor in the vomit

Seek immediate medical attention
Ask someone to drive you to urgent care or the emergency room if:

  • Nausea and vomiting are accompanied by pain or a severe headache, especially if you haven't had this type of headache before
  • You're unable to eat or drink anything for 12 hours or your child hasn't been able to keep liquids down for eight hours
  • You have signs or symptoms of dehydration — excessive thirst, dry mouth, infrequent urination, dark-colored urine and weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness upon standing
  • Your vomit contains blood, resembles coffee grounds or is green

Schedule a doctor's visit
Make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • Vomiting lasts more than two days for adults, 24 hours for children under age 2 or 12 hours for infants
  • You've had bouts of nausea and vomiting for longer than one month
  • You've experienced unexplained weight loss along with nausea and vomiting

Take self-care measures while you wait for your appointment with your doctor:

  • Take it easy. Too much activity and not getting enough rest might make nausea worse.
  • Stay hydrated. Take small sips of cold, clear, carbonated or sour drinks, such as ginger ale, lemonade and water. Mint tea also may help.
  • Avoid strong odors and other triggers. Food and cooking smells, perfume, smoke, stuffy rooms, heat, humidity, flickering lights, and driving are among the possible triggers of nausea and vomiting.
  • Eat bland foods. Start with easily digested foods such as gelatin, crackers and toast. When you can keep these down, try cereal, rice, fruit, and salty or high-protein, high-carbohydrate foods. Avoid fatty or spicy foods. Wait to eat solid foods until about six hours after the last time you vomited.
  • Use over-the-counter (OTC) motion sickness medicines. If you're planning a trip, OTC motion sickness drugs, such as Dramamine or Rugby Travel Sickness, may help calm your queasy stomach. For longer journeys, such as a cruise, ask your doctor about prescription motion sickness adhesive patches, such as scopolamine (Transderm-Scop).

If your queasiness stems from pregnancy, try nibbling on some crackers before you get out of bed in the morning.

May. 14, 2011