Repeated Involuntary Vomiting
Mouth | Gastroenterology | Repeated Involuntary Vomiting (Symptom)
Vomiting, also known as emesis and throwing up, is the forceful ejection of the stomach’s contents. Vomiting is a common symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. It occurs in all age groups and populations and it may or may not occur with nausea. Vomiting, along with nausea, is a symptom of an underlying disease rather than a specific illness itself. Depending on the cause, vomiting can begin suddenly and disappear quickly, as in the case of alcohol intoxication. Vomiting may also recur over days, weeks or months, such as vomiting due to morning sickness or pancreatitis.
Causes of vomiting are varied and include food-borne illnesses, infections, problems with the brain and central nervous system, and systemic diseases. Some illnesses will cause nausea and vomiting, even though there is no direct involvement of the stomach or gastrointestinal tract. Examples can include pneumonia, heart attack, and sepsis. Vomiting may be a side effect of medications, including drugs used in cancer chemotherapy, as well as a side effect of radiation therapy. Repeated or profuse vomiting may cause erosions to the esophagus or small tears in the esophageal mucosa (Mallory-Weiss tear). This may become apparent if fresh red blood is mixed with vomit after several episodes.
Prolonged and excessive vomiting depletes the body of water (dehydration), and may alter the electrolyte status. Gastric vomiting leads to the loss of acid (protons) and chlorine directly. Combined with the resulting alkaline tide, this leads to hypochloremic metabolic alkalosis (low chloride levels together with high HCO3 and CO2 and increased blood pH) and often hypokalemia (potassium depletion).