What causes vomiting after coughing and what should I do?

Symptom Database

Vomiting after coughing can be a distressing and uncomfortable experience. It can leave you feeling weak, exhausted, and unsure of what to do next. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this condition can help you manage it effectively and find relief.

What Causes Vomiting After Coughing?

Vomiting after coughing is often a result of the forceful contraction of the abdominal muscles during a coughing fit. This force can put pressure on the stomach, leading to the expulsion of its contents. Several factors can contribute to this phenomenon:

  • Severe or prolonged coughing: Intense and prolonged coughing episodes can strain the abdominal muscles, triggering vomiting.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): GERD is a condition where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing heartburn and sometimes leading to vomiting after coughing.
  • Respiratory infections: Infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia can cause persistent coughing, which may result in vomiting.
  • Asthma: People with asthma often experience coughing fits, and in some cases, these fits can lead to vomiting.
  • Postnasal drip: Excessive mucus dripping down the back of the throat can trigger coughing, which may then lead to vomiting.

Symptoms of Vomiting After Coughing

When vomiting occurs after coughing, it is important to recognize the associated symptoms. These may include:

  • Feeling nauseous or queasy before or after coughing
  • Experiencing a sudden urge to vomit during or after a coughing fit
  • Noticing the presence of stomach acid or undigested food in the vomit
  • Feeling weak or fatigued after vomiting

Treatment and Remedies

While vomiting after coughing can be uncomfortable, there are several treatment options and remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms:

1. Rest and Hydration

Resting and staying hydrated can help your body recover from the strain of coughing and vomiting. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, herbal tea, or clear broths, to prevent dehydration.

2. Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications, such as antacids or acid reducers, can help manage GERD-related symptoms and reduce the likelihood of vomiting after coughing. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new medication.

3. Cough Suppressants

If your coughing is severe and persistent, your doctor may prescribe cough suppressants to help reduce the frequency and intensity of coughing fits. These medications can also help minimize the risk of vomiting.

4. Treating Underlying Conditions

If your vomiting after coughing is caused by an underlying condition, such as asthma or a respiratory infection, treating the root cause can help alleviate the symptoms. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and take any prescribed medications as directed.

Prevention Tips

While it may not always be possible to prevent vomiting after coughing, there are some steps you can take to minimize the risk:

1. Practice Good Hygiene

Wash your hands regularly and avoid close contact with individuals who have respiratory infections. This can help reduce your chances of developing a cough and subsequent vomiting.

2. Manage GERD

If you have GERD, follow a healthy diet, avoid trigger foods, and take any prescribed medications to manage your symptoms. This can help reduce the likelihood of vomiting after coughing.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough fluids can help keep your airways moist and reduce the severity of coughing fits. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

4. Avoid Irritants

Avoid exposure to irritants such as smoke, strong odors, and pollutants, as they can trigger coughing and potentially lead to vomiting.

Vomiting after coughing can be a challenging symptom to manage, but with the right treatment and preventive measures, you can find relief. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. By taking care of your overall health and addressing any underlying conditions, you can minimize the impact of this symptom on your daily life.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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