The world is full of things that make our stomachs turn. Depending on the situation, everything from eating egg salad to giving blood to reading credit card bills can make you clutch your belly in agony.
And what happens when that twisting, turning tummy becomes too much to bear? You guessed it—you vomit. Below are tips to help you keep nausea in check before the dreaded "V word" occurs. If it's too late, and you've already lost your lunch, there are tips to nurse your stomach—and the rest of you—back to good health.
"There are at least 25 different diseases that could cause chronic nausea," says Kenneth Koch, M.D. If your nausea just doesn't go away in a day or two, it's a good idea to see your doctor.
Vomiting, on the other hand, can be a sign of something serious. "If it's profuse, persistent, or bloody, seek help," advises Stephen Bezruchka, M.D. Also see a doctor if you've gone 24 hours without being able to keep any food down and nothing seems to help, Dr. Koch says.
"If your thirst is severe and you notice you're not urinating very much—and especially if you're also getting light-headed when you stand up, which are signs of dehydration—see a doctor," he adds. "If you know it's the flu, or you've just eaten something a little strange, you might try to go a bit longer."
Nausea can also be a sign of a heart attack. In which case, get to a hospital right away.
Stephen Bezruchka, M.D., M.P.H. is an emergency physician in Seattle, and a senior lecturer in the department of health services at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Seattle.
Joseph M. Helms, M.D., is a medical acupuncturist in Berkeley, California, and a clinical instructor at the David Geffen School of Medicine in UCLA. He is the author of Acupuncture Energetics.
Samuel Klein, M.D., is a William H. Danforth professor of medicine and nutritional science and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Kenneth Koch, M.D., is head of the section on gastroenterology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He has clinical and research interests in gastroparesis (a condition that affects stomach muscles and prevents the stomach from emptying properly), gastric dysrhythmias and unexplained nausea and vomiting.
Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D., is a psychologist who specializes in psychopharmacology and is the author of Herbal Tonic Therapies.
Robert Warren, Pharm.D., is a pharmacist at United Pharmacy in Dinuba, California.