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When should a doctor be consulted?

The timing of the nausea or vomiting can indicate the cause. When it appears shortly after a meal, nausea or vomiting may indicate a mental disorder or a peptic ulcer. Nausea or vomiting one to eight hours after a meal may indicate food poisoning. Foodborne diseases, such as Salmonella, may take longer to produce symptoms because of the incubation time.

A person who is experiencing nausea should consult a physician if it lasts more than one week, and if there is a possibility of pregnancy. Vomiting usually subsides within 6 to 24 hours, and may be treated at home.

You should see your doctor if home treatment is not working, dehydration is present, or a known injury (such as head injury or infection) is causing the vomiting.

Take your infant or a child under six years old to the doctor if:

  • vomiting lasts more than a few hours;
  • diarrhea is also present;
  • signs of dehydration occur;
  • there is a fever higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit; or
  • the child hasn't urinated for six hours.
  • Take your child over six years old to the doctor if:

  • vomiting lasts one day;
  • diarrhea combined with vomiting lasts for more than 24 hours;
  • there are signs of dehydration;

  • there is a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit; or
  • the child hasn't urinated for six hours.

Adults should consult a doctor if vomiting occurs for more than one day, if diarrhea and vomiting last more than 24 hours, and if there are signs of moderate dehydration.

You should see a doctor immediately if the following signs or symptoms occur.

  • blood in the vomit ("coffee grounds" appearance)
  • severe headache or stiff neck
  • lethargy
  • confusion
  • decreased alertness
  • severe abdominal pain
  • vomiting with fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • vomiting and diarrhea are both present
  • rapid breathing or pulse


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