17 December 2008


It's a weird thing that pretty frequently I see a patient for abdominal pain, and he or she will tell me that they even "tried vomiting" but it didn't help.


I don't know why, but it seems to be a widespread belief that vomiting will make you feel better.   I hate vomiting.  It leaves me covered in sweat, shaking, and weak as a kitten.  I avoid it at all costs.   And people do this deliberately.  Amazing.


  1. So true! I hear the same thing!
    And I am also one of those people who never vomits.
    I'm nauseous right now as a matter of fact, but confident there will be no vomiting.

    To me, this is somewhat similar to patients who feel the need to hack up and spit out every bit of phlegm they possibly can every few seconds (and, of course, then want to show it to me).

  2. You're like my husband, who would rather die than vomit. I'm one who would rather get it over with, and have often felt better after vomiting. So yes, I can see the utility in giving in to the urge :) My husband would still rather die.

  3. I have to agree with you. I'd rather DIE. I will do ANYTHING to not vomit!!!! (And on the bright side, it's kept me from ever EVER wanting to drink to excess)

  4. You've been too long out of med school; you're forgetting alchol. The sensation after vomiting is almost always, amazing relief.

  5. OH MY GOD... amen to that one.
    I avoid vomiting at all costs! The dry heaves are the worst!

  6. I, too, hate vomiting and rarely do it, no matter how nauseated I am.

    I had a patient the other day who told me that he routinely vomits when he gets panic attacks and that seems to "stop" an attack, otherwise he's incapacitated all day. I didn't really know what to say to that.

  7. It depends on why I am ill.

    If I am sick due to something I ate, then vomiting will make me feel better. If I am nauseated because I took a pain killer, it will not help (I am among the 10% or so of the population who cannot tolerate narcotics like percodan, vicodin, Demerol, etc).

    Also, if I have a cough I will vomit. It doesn't make me feel any better, but it is a response to continual coughing.

    If I do not feel well from a "stomach flu", I can make myself vomit by coughing. Sometimes it helps (though the last time I had a very nasty intestinal virus I upchucked in my sleep --- I barely remember it, and dear suffering hubby had to clean everything, my response was to sleep, sleep and not eat anything solid for two days).

    This is not a trait my husband has. I do not remember when the last time he threw up.

    My 20 year old son gets migraine headaches. He seemed to inherit that from my husband. Though my husband has not had migraines for a while, he dealt with them by taking ibuprofen and going to a quiet dark room for the rest of the day.

    On the other hand, migraines will make my son nauseous. Sometimes he does feel better after vomiting, but he still needs to spend the day in a dark quiet room (after taking either ibuprofen or naproxen... or whatever Aleve is).

    Such are the variety of human responses to illness!

  8. I think in the last 15 years I have vomitted exactly once... though that one time it did make me feel remarkably better...

  9. I rolled up on a patient sitting on the curb once. The call was for a 'sick person'.
    As we stopped & got out of the ambulance, she stood up, leaned over, and stuck a finger in her throat.
    This was a successful effort, and she left her sidewalk pizza there as we drove her off to the hospital.
    Better there than in the back of the rig due to self-inducement (which has happened).

  10. Wait until they drink pickle juice to induce vomiting and then hurl all over your scrubs.

  11. It really does depend on why for me.

    I don't drink, so I've never had the experience of hangover nausea. On the other, I've had hyperemesis gravidarum. During which I discovered that after a certain point in the racheting up of nausea, resistance is futile, the trick is to do it with the least amount of resistance. And it helps to have something in there to throw up. I got very good at throwing up after doing it about every waking hour for four months.

    What I hate is the low-grade nausea that won't be improved by vomiting, but is just prominent enough a sensation I can't ignore it.

  12. In my family, we are quick to vomick...in fact we avoid even using the word to describe the action...throw up, puke, hurl, upchuck, etc.. are all ok, but the word "vomit" makes us all vomick. The joke has become that at least I didn't say "vomit"...just typing the word has the same effect...I'm off to the latrine...

  13. i can't think of a time when i DIDN'T feel better after vomiting. migraines, "stomach flu," hangover, even with morning (all damn day) sickness.

    although when i was in the ER for abdominal pain, vomiting was the last thing on my mind.

  14. Tiny Shrink- vomiting could be stimulating the vagus nerve system creating temporary relief.

  15. I don't know why, but it seems to be a widespread belief that vomiting will make you feel better.

    I do know why people believe this. Because, as some other people commented, vomiting does sometimes make you feel better. And I hate to vomit, but I love the relief. I usually resist vomiting until I can't avoid it, though, because it doesn't always work. When it does work, I am soooooo glad. I hate nausea even more than I hate vomiting.

  16. Count me in the 'vomiting brings relief' (a.k.a. weirdo) category.

    It isn't a panacea. But if I feel particularly nauseous then I won't hesitate to worship the porcelain goddess. Usually I feel better after, especially if I can sip some water and clean my mouth (mouthwash or a good brushing).

  17. Vomiting aargh.
    The mouth starts filling up with tons of saliva. The heart races. You sweat and shake. I do everything to hold back. Hate it with a vengeance.
    When I had a bowel obstruction for two weeks I could manage to hold back the vile putrid experience for days at a time, knowing the end result is a taste not dissimilar to pooh left in your mouth. Yet once it was over relief at knowing the sulphur burps will be gone for at least a couple of hours.
    The next bad vomiting situation is when you have a pounding headache, and you feel as though your head will spontaneously burst open with the pressure.
    I will do everything conceivable to not vomit it sucks.

  18. It depends on how 'sick' I'm feeling. The vast majority of times, it's "generalized" sickness (horrid cold/fever or the occasional terrible respiratory infection with bad fever).

    In such cases, while I do feel like tar; I don't have the urge/desire to up chuck.

    But sometimes, I'm just so "sick-sick" (body ache all over, near-persistent nausea, raging fever) that I'll drag myself on all fours to the porcelain throne and induce vomiting (if nothing else than just to get rid of that damned nauseous feeling!)

    This is a tricky issue though - mostly, I get lucky and I get a good heave-ho and I almost instantly feel better. BUT, there have also been times when I've been so sick that all the effort produced were dry heaves - which ended up leaving me feeling worse!

    I guess it's all relative...


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