the cause & what actually happens

So, something really bad has happened to your body, such as food poisoning, illness, motion sickness, or tequila, and your brain has decided the contents of your stomach need to be evacuated. There is a bit of your brain called the vomit center which monitors several different areas of your body, and will initiate vomiting if it decides something's wrong. The vomit sequence goes like this:

  1. Your windpipe closes
  2. The abdominal wall and diaphragm, working in concert, squeeze the stomach (which is limp through this process)
  3. Stomach contents are ejected
It's terrible. Because your windpipe is closed, breathing is impossible while the sequence is in progress; any air in your lungs will force its way past the closed windpipe making a very peculiar and painful-sounding noise. For me, the strain occasionally breaks blood vessels in my face. It's just not fun. Just because there's nothing in your stomach doesn't mean the vomit center is done -- it may trigger the sequence long after the cause has passed. You'll probably vomit up bile, an acidic yellowish substance. If you like the enamel on your teeth, make sure to wash your mouth out after vomiting.

the aftermath

If you've only vomited once, don't worry too much. You should just drink a little water or juice a while after a while. However, if you're like me, you've been vomiting pretty constantly for a few hours, and you might be pretty badly dehydrated. Here's some tips:
  • Start off with about half a cup of water. Slowly drink it, then let it sit in your stomach for a half hour or so.
  • If that stayed down, move on to something that will rehydrate you quickly and provide some sugar to get your energy level back up. Gatorade, juice, ginger ale, or 7-up work pretty well. Remember, don't drink this too fast -- you don't want to shock your stomach and start vomiting again.
  • If you kept that down, try some very plain food, like toast or saltine crackers. No dairy, no meat. Don't gobble it down, either. After eating a little solid food, wait a little while for your stomach to react -- you don't want to eat a lot just to have it come back up in half an hour.
  • Once that's all down, give it a little time to settle. Then, have a real meal -- my favorite is grilled cheese, a bowl of soup, and some milk. It shouldn't be anything huge, and it ought not be too wild. Your stomach is probably still a little sensitive.

Puking is no fun. I've been there, in many situations. I've been slapped for the process, coddled, made to feel better, and verbally hung from the ceiling.
So, here are my thoughts and notes on caring for yourself, if you're alone, and have no sight.

The cleanup is going to be difficult at best and impossible without help at worst. If you've lost your lunch into the toilet flush, and make sure you've cleaned up any splatty bits.
If you've done so in a waste basket please take out the bag and double or even tripple bag it immediately. Hold your breath.
Wash your face with cool water. It helps you to feel better. The WU above gives excellent ideas, although I do have a few more that have worked for me.

Peppermint. If you're not allergic or it's not otherwise contraindicated for your case, use it. It should help. Of course if you're throwing up constantly for more than a few hours, you might want to call a doctor just to be sure.

Vom"it*ing, n.

The spasmodic ejection of matter from the stomach through the mouth.


© Webster 1913.

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