and Nausea: what to know
Vomiting is often a surprising and unwanted event. When you vomit, a lot of things happen in your body to make it work:
- Signal to Brain: Your stomach or other parts of your body send a warning to a part of the brain called the “vomiting center.” Cells in the “chemoreceptor trigger zone” or “CTZ ” of the brain stimulate the vomiting center.
- Deep Breath: You take a deep breath in, which helps to keep vomit from getting into your lungs.
- Close Off: Your vocal cords close to protect your airway.
- Muscle Work: Muscles in your stomach, chest, and throat start working together. They push the stomach contents up and out.
- Release: Finally, the stomach contents come out through your mouth.
The health purpose of vomiting is mainly to get rid of harmful things. Here’s how it helps:
- Remove Toxins: If you eat bad food or something poisonous, vomiting helps get it out fast.
- Clear Infections: Additionally, vomiting can help clear some stomach bugs.
- Relieve Pressure: Sometimes, the stomach gets too full or too much gas builds up. Vomiting can relieve that pressure.
- Prep for Healing: Vomiting can sometimes give a “reset” to your stomach, letting it focus on healing.
- Defensive Action: Vomiting is a quick way for your body to react to something that’s wrong. It’s often a first step in getting you to seek help.
Remember, seeing a doctor is important if you’re vomiting a lot or have other symptoms.
The Chemoreceptor Trigger Zone (CTZ)
The chemoreceptor trigger zone, often called the CTZ, is a particular area in the brain. It’s like a watchtower that looks out for things that might make you throw up. The CTZ is located in a part of the brain called the medulla oblongata, near the base of your brain.
This zone has cells that can detect chemicals in your blood. When it senses something unhealthy, like toxins or certain drugs, it sends a message to the vomiting center in the brain. Then, the vomiting center starts the process that makes you throw up.
Many things can activate the CTZ:
- Medicines: Some drugs, like chemotherapy, can trigger it.
- Toxins: Poisons in the body can activate the CTZ.
- Alcohol: Drinking too much can make the CTZ send the vomit signal.
- Hormones: Even hormone changes, like in pregnancy, can affect it.
Knowing how the CTZ works helps doctors treat nausea and vomiting. They can give you medicine that blocks the signals from the CTZ to the vomiting center, which helps keep you from throwing up.
What can you do at home for vomiting?
Further, some home remedies help you feel better when dealing with nausea and vomiting. But remember, if symptoms last or get worse, you should see a doctor. Here are some home remedies:
- Ginger Tea: Ginger is known to help calm the stomach. Make ginger tea or chew on ginger root.
- Lemon Water: Sip lemon water to help refresh your mouth and ease nausea.
- Peppermint: Peppermint tea or sniffing peppermint oil can help you feel less sick.
- Saltine Crackers: Eating plain saltine crackers can help absorb stomach acid.
- BRAT Diet: Stick to bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast when you’re feeling sick.
- Cold Compress: Put a cold cloth on your forehead or the back of your neck.
- Stay Hydrated: Sip water, sports drinks, or clear broth to keep fluids up.
- Herbal Teas: Some people find chamomile or peppermint tea soothing.
- Sit Up: Try to sit up and avoid crunching your stomach to help ease nausea.
- Fresh Air: Sometimes, stepping outside for fresh air can help you feel better.
- Avoid Triggers: Stay away from strong smells, spicy foods, or fatty foods that might make you feel worse.
- Deep Breathing: Slow, deep breaths can help relax your body and may ease nausea.
- Flat Soda: Let some soda go flat and sip it slowly.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon tea may help some people with nausea.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Some people sip diluted apple cider vinegar to settle the stomach.
Before trying any of these, check if they are safe for you, especially if you are pregnant or have other medical conditions.
Copyright 2023 William E. Franklin, DO, MBA
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