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What causes vomiting?

Updated on June 8, 2009

Vomiting is the expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth.

It can occur without warning, though it is often preceded by nausea. It is controlled by a specific part of the brain, called the vomiting center, which can be stimulated in several ways.

Most commonly, the center is excited by nerve impulses sent from the gastrointestinal tract when any part of it is overly distended, irritated, or excited. The vomiting center then sends out impulses to the muscles involved in vomiting. The muscles of the abdomen contract and the diaphragm pushes downward. These contractions constrict the stomach, raising the pressure. The sphincter muscle between the stomach and the oesophagus then relaxes, forcing up the contents of the stomach.

Improper eating, excessive amounts of alcohol, chemicals, drugs and food poisoning can cause an irritation of the gastrointestinal tract which can result in vomiting

Hormone imbalances due to pregnancy can also cause what's known as 'morning sickness'. But this can happen at any time of the day.

Vomiting sometimes occurs because the vomiting center has been excited by impulses stimulated by unpleasant sights or odors, by morphine and other drugs, or by 'motion sickness', the nausea associated with the movement of a car, ship or plane.

If it's an ongoing concern consult with your physician, as ailments such as reflux can be treated and ease the suffering of the inflicted.


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    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 8 years ago

      I can relate to unpleasant oders such as spoiled milk or a decaying cat (sorry for the visual) but these came to mind because of the nausea and vomiting causes. Not a pleasant memory I must say.