Dry Retching Causes

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Dry retching, also called dry heaves, is performing the actions of vomiting without actually expelling content from the stomach. Dry retching occurs after a person experiences nausea, a queasy feeling, and movement in the throat and stomach.

Nausea can develop for a multitude of reasons, but almost always occurs because something has disturbed the stomach's normal environment.

Food Poisoning

A person develops food poisoning after he ingests a food or beverage that is contaminated with bacteria, parasites or viruses. Salmonellosis, food poisoning from salmonella bacteria, is a common variety of this illness. Dry retching can occur because of food poisoning; nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea are also common with the condition, based on information from the website Wrong Diagnosis.

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Another medical condition related to dry retching is cyclic vomiting syndrome. This is a condition marked by intervals of severe nausea and vomiting that may last for days. The symptoms usually arise after an event, such as an infection, allergies, anxiety or the common cold. Phases of cyclic vomiting syndrome follow a pattern of a symptom-free period followed by slight nausea that turns into severe nausea and vomiting, and then the recovery stage after the symptoms cease, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment normally focuses on preventing episodes, sometime with the use of medication, and long resting periods when symptoms are severe.


Gastroparesis occurs when a person's stomach muscles fail to function properly. Muscles in the stomach lining usually move food through the digestive tract through strong contractions. With gastroparesis, these muscles function poorly, if at all, preventing the stomach from emptying content in a normal way. The result of this improper functioning is often nausea, dry retching, vomiting and nutritional deficiency, according to the Mayo Clinic. There's no cure for gastroparesis, but a person can adjust his diet to ease the symptoms.


Medication can sometimes have an adverse effect on a person's digestive system that can cause nausea, dry retching and vomiting. There are certain medications known for inducing these symptoms, such as those used for chemotherapy, but the symptoms can result from the use of any medication, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. A person's health care provider must decide on the best treatment for these symptoms.