Nausea & Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting

Most nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are caused by viruses and will go away in a few days.

When to seek medical care

You should seek medical care if any of the following are true:

  • You aren’t better after 48 hours.
  • You have black or bloody diarrhea or blood in your vomit.
  • You have a fever higher than 100.4 F (38 C).
  • You have very yellow urine or haven’t needed to urinate for more than five hours.
  • You have severe abdominal (belly) pain.


Drink lots of fluids if possible, but start slowly with 1–2 sips every 5 minutes. If you become nauseated, wait 20–30 minutes and then begin again. Wait 20–30 minutes to be sure you don’t have more vomiting or diarrhea.

You can use Pedialyte or make an oral rehydrating solution (ORS) by mixing one level half-teaspoon of salt and six level teaspoons of sugar into one liter (1.05 quarts or 33 ounces) of water. Be exact about these amounts. If you are drinking without problems for a few hours, start more clear liquids.

When (and how) to resume eating

Once you are drinking without vomiting or diarrhea for at least 4–5 hours and you feel hungry, eat small amounts 6–8 times a day. Start with soft, bland foods, such as plain yogurt, plain cooked pasta, cooked vegetables, steamed rice, bananas, or lean meat. Breads, dry cereal, toast, and saltine crackers that have dense carbohydrates can help.

Avoid foods that have a lot of fat in them. They can make nausea worse.

Return to a nutritionally balanced diet of protein, grain, fruit, and vegetables as soon as you can tolerate it, but try to not rush it too quickly.

Notes about food, drink, and medications

Do not eat or drink these while you are sick. Wait several days (48–72 hours) after you are well to resume:

  • Red fluids or foods, as they may appear to be blood if you continue to vomit or have diarrhea
  • Alcohol
  • Pizza
  • Fatty, fried, greasy, or spicy food
  • Uncooked or fresh fruit or vegetables including salad

Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen, as these may irritate your stomach. You may take acetaminophen (Tylenol) 500–1,000 mg every 6 hours as needed for pain.

If you are taking a birth control pill for contraception, be sure to use condoms for the next 7 days. The absorption of your pill may have been affected while you were sick.

Need a doctor’s note?

Does your professor require a doctor’s note to excuse you from class? Find out why the Student Health Center does not provide medical excuses, and learn how to explain this to your instructor.

Read our medical excuse policy