Vomiting in adults

Nausea and vomiting in adults isn’t usually a sign of anything serious. It tends to only last 1 or 2 days. 

Vomiting is the body’s way of getting rid of harmful substances from the stomach, or it may be a reaction to something that has irritated the gut. 

One of the most common causes of vomiting in adults is gastroenteritis. This is an infection of the gut usually caused by bacteria or a virus. It’ll normally improve within a few days. 

Common causes of vomiting in adults


If you have diarrhoea as well as vomiting, it’s likely you have gastroenteritis. This is one of the most common causes of vomiting in adults. 

It’s often caused by: 

Your immune system will usually fight off the infection after a few days. 


Pregnant women often experience nausea and vomiting, particularly during the early stages of pregnancy. This is often called morning sickness but it can happen at any time of the day.


If you have recurrent episodes of vomiting along with intense, throbbing headaches that last for a few hours to days at a time, you may be experiencing migraines

Pain relief, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, can sometimes help control the pain. Your GP can prescribe anti-sickness medicine to help prevent vomiting. 


If you also feel dizzy, or feel like you’re spinning (vertigo), you may have an inner ear infection called labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis will usually improve over a few days. Your GP can prescribe medication to reduce your symptoms if needed. 

Motion sickness

Nausea and vomiting when travelling could be a sign of motion sickness.

You can try:

  • looking at the horizon
  • distracting yourself by listening to music


As well as vomiting, appendicitis can cause severe pain in your abdomen (tummy). You should phone 999 for an ambulance if you experience pain that suddenly becomes worse and spreads across your abdomen. These are signs that you appendix may have burst.

If you have appendicitis, you will often need surgery to remove your appendix.

Other causes of vomiting in adults

Vomiting in adults can also be caused by a number of other things, including:

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