Recurrent Vomiting

For children under 12, see chart 43

Consult this chart if you have been vomiting repeatedly over a number of days or weeks. Recurrent vomiting may be caused by a digestive tract disorder but is also common in early pregnancy. You should consult your doctor if you have persistent or recurrent vomiting.

  • Could you be pregnant?

    • Possibly pregnant
      • Possible cause Nausea and/or vomiting are often the first indicators of pregnancy (see Common complaints of normal pregnancy).

        Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor if vomiting is preventing you from keeping down fluids. You should see your doctor even if you are not sure whether you are pregnant.

    • Not pregnant

      Have you experienced any of the following kinds of recurrent pain?

      • Burning central chest pain if you bend or lie down
      • Pain in the upper right abdomen that may spread to the back
        • Possible cause Gallstones could be the cause of your symptoms.

          Medical help See your doctor within 24 hours.

      • Pain in the centre of the upper abdomen that is related to eating
        • Possible cause Your symptoms may be due to a peptic ulcer.

          Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor.

      • None of the above

        Have you noticed either of the following symptoms?

        • Yellowing of the skin
          • Possible cause Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, known as jaundice, is often accompanied by vomiting. Jaundice has many possible causes but in most cases is due to liver disease such as hepatitis (see Acute hepatitis).

            Medical help See your doctor within 24 hours.

        • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes
          • Possible cause Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, known as jaundice, is often accompanied by vomiting. Jaundice has many possible causes but in most cases is due to liver disease such as hepatitis (see Acute hepatitis).

            Medical help See your doctor within 24 hours.

        • Neither

          Have you had progressive unintentional weight loss or a reduced appetite?

          • Weight loss
            • Possible cause Your symptoms may be the result of a peptic ulcer, but there is also a possibility of stomach cancer.

              Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor.

          • Reduced appetite
            • Possible cause Your symptoms may be the result of a peptic ulcer, but there is also a possibility of stomach cancer.

              Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor.

          • Neither

            Do you regularly drink more than the recommended limit of alcohol (see Safe alcohol limits)?

            • More than the limit
              • Possible cause Excessive consumption of alcohol over a prolonged period can cause long-term inflammation of the stomach lining (see Gastritis).

                Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor.

            • Within the limit

              Have you been suffering from recurrent headaches?

              • Headaches with vomiting but no nausea
                • Possible cause Recurrent headaches with vomiting but no nausea may, in rare cases, indicate pressure on the brain due to bleeding or a tumour (see Subdural haemorrhage, and Brain tumours).

                  Medical help URGENT! Phone your doctor immediately!

              • Headaches with vomiting and nausea
                • Possible cause You may be suffering from migraine.

                  Medical help Make an appointment to see your doctor, who can review your diagnosis. He or she may recommend that you take a preventive medication in future.

              • No headaches

                Are you currently taking any medications or complementary remedies?

                • Yes
                  • Possible cause Your symptoms may be a side effect of the medication or remedy.

                    Medical help See your doctor within 24 hours. Continue to take any prescribed medication unless advised to stop by your doctor but stop taking any other medications or complementary remedies.

                • No
                  • If you cannot identify a possible cause for your recurrent vomiting from this chart, make an appointment to see your doctor.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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