Virtually everyone has vomited at some point or another. It's usually caused by an illness or overindulgence in food or drink; your body, via such signs as nausea and retching, lets you know that it doesn't like what it has in its stomach. Unlike with normal vomiting, however, no other signs are associated with projectile vomiting. So what is projectile vomiting, and what causes it?
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Projectile vomiting is a sudden and temporary condition that occurs when your body's gastrointestinal system decides it must immediately rid itself of your stomach's contents. Projectile vomiting is not only unexpected and uncontrollable--it, unsurprisingly, is also quite uncomfortable. When your body does not have time to foresee its need to vomit, it can lead to forceful vomiting; thanks to the extreme force, the contents of your stomach are projected away from you (hence the term "projectile vomiting").
Unlike typical vomiting, projectile vomiting occurs without warning--your body will not deliver any of the typical signs like nausea, but will instead react abruptly, leading to uncontrollable projectile vomiting. Although the condition is most commonly seen in children and infants, adults may experience it occasionally. In most circumstances, projectile vomiting is short-lived; however, if the condition persists (regardless of age), it may indicate a serious health problem.
An infant who regularly experiences projectile vomiting should visit his paediatrician immediately. Your child's forceful vomiting may be caused by a simple virus, or a more serious condition like Pyloric Stenos (an intestinal disorder than often requires surgery) may be responsible. And even if such conditions are not responsible for the projectile vomiting, you may want to have a doctor check to ensure that nothing is obstructing your gastric outlet.
Unfortunately, there are not many treatment options for projectile vomiting. Because the condition occurs so suddenly, there's no real forewarning; as a result, your body does not have an opportunity to prevent it from occurring. That said, removing certain foods from your diet may help: Caffeine, chocolate and spicy foods are just a few examples of some potential culprits. Food allergies may also lead to projectile vomiting.
Since projectile vomiting is your body's way of ridding itself of harmful substances, the condition may indicate poisoning. When a person overdoses on drugs, for example, projectile vomiting may occur. Besides a drug overdose or poisoning, projectile vomiting may also be a symptom of flu, ulcer, concussion or another serious medical condition. Repeated projectile vomiting in very young children can also lead to dehydration. The best way to know for sure what is causing projectile vomiting is to discuss it with your doctor--particularly if the condition lasts more than a day or continues even after you have completely emptied your stomach.