Projectile Vomiting, Causes, Meaning, Definition, In Adults and Child

Vomiting is normally a very unpleasant experience that many people would rather not undergo. Projectile vomiting is more distressing than the traditional type of vomiting. Vomiting accompanied by tremendous force has been known to occur all of a sudden with the stomach contents being projected a few feet away.

Newborns, children and infants are also prone to this type of vomiting. They are likely to experience it when food is unable to get into the small intestines due to a blockage. Adults are not spared as well as they could also find food being forcefully exiting the body through the mouth.

Projectile Vomiting in Adults
Projectile Vomiting in Adults

A sharp contraction of your abdominal muscles is involved in the process of throwing up. Strong muscle spasms lead to the stomach contents being thrown out of your mouth using tremendous amounts of force. Nausea does not normally precede projectile vomiting.

There are instances where you may become nauseous beforehand. Popular reasons for this form of vomiting include:

  • Presence of pressure on your brain
  • Food poisoning
  • Anxiety
  • Internal blockage

Below, you will get to learn what causes projectile vomiting, and diarrhea, its definition, and meaning. You will also find information explaining the reasons for forced vomiting in adults, a child, newborn, and in infants.

Projectile vomiting definition

Vomiting is the forced ejection of your stomach contents via your mouth. The process is also referred to as regurgitation or emesis. Projectile vomiting occurs where materials in your stomach are ejected using great force.

What does it mean when you experience projectile vomiting?

Nausea is the unpleasant feeling experienced when you need to vomit. Some people also experience an unwillingness to consume food, vague discomfort in the stomach or abdominal region, and dizziness.

Vomiting occurs when there are forceful contractions in your stomach that ends up propelling these contents via your esophagus and out through the mouth. The vomiting process aids in emptying your stomach contents thereby getting rid of the nausea leading to a general feeling of well-being. Vomiting can be violent and may cause lots of discomfort.

Severe vomiting has the potential to propel the stomach contents a few feet from where you may be seated or standing. You should not confuse vomiting with regurgitation. Regurgitation is not accompanied by forceful contractions of your abdomen when spitting out the stomach contents.

Vomitus is the material that is emitted during vomiting. It will normally reflect what you ate recently. It could contain chunks of food or spots of blood.

Red vomitus is an indication that you are expelling blood from your body. Partly digested blood is expelled in the form of ground coffee beans. Presence of bile makes the vomitus to become bitter and is yellowish-green in color.

What causes Projectile vomiting?

The condition is popular among infants. It can however affect adults. Its main causes include:

1. Gastroenteritis

It may cause severe type of vomiting that may at times be interpreted as projectile. It refers to any type of inflammation present on your gut and caused by a bacterial or viral infection. The condition is a popular cause of:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea after food consumption

Severe vomiting that has been caused by gastroenteritis could lead to low potassium levels in your blood, according to Dr. Thomas Boyce from Mayo Clinic. It may also cause an electrolyte imbalance and low blood pressure.

2. Food poisoning

It is another common cause of severe bouts of vomiting. Food contaminated by toxins and bacteria could lead to explosive vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea lasting for a few days. Food poisoning symptoms may be caused by various bacterial strains. For instance, food contaminated by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterial strain leads to projectile vomiting with diarrhea and no fever.

Natural home remedies can come in handy in eliminating the effects caused by food contamination. Ginger is one of the home remedies recommended for dealing with poisoning.

3. Bowel obstruction

Bowel obstruction is considered to be a critical medical condition with the potential to cause severe vomiting. The condition does not allow for the proper digestion of food. You will therefore likely experience:

  • Constipation
  • Excess gas
  • Cramping abdominal pain

Severe food expulsion is one of the complications associated with bowel blockage, according to Dr. Liliana, an Associate Surgery Professor at Harvard School of Medicine. It is advisable to consult a medic if you experience:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Constipation
  • Crampy abdominal pains

4. Stomach obstruction

Gastric outlet obstruction is a blockage in your stomach that could lead to forced expulsion of stomach contents. It occurs at the bottom of your stomach pylorus thereby preventing the entrance of food to your stomach intestines. Peptic ulcer condition is a common cause of this condition, according to Dr. Andres from Medscape.

Consider trying out natural home remedies when you start experiencing peptic ulcer disease symptoms like:

  • Sour stomach
  • Stomach pain
  • Excessive burping
  • Bloating

Projectile vomiting in adults

Vomiting and nausea in adults is ordinarily not linked to any serious medical condition. You will often not require to go for treatment as you can easily handle the condition at home. Gut infections are the most popular causes of adult vomiting.

The infection can last for around two days. There are instances where vomiting could have been caused by a serious condition requiring urgent medical care. Adult vomiting can be due to:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Motion sickness
  • Pregnancy
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Migraines
  • Inflamed gallbladder
  • Medication, e.g., antibiotics
  • Radiotherapy and chemotherapy
  • Consumption of too much alcohol
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Kidney stones and kidney infections

Projectile vomiting in infants, baby or newborns

Bowel or stomach obstruction is the leading cause of severe vomiting in newborn, babies, or small children. Pyloric stenosis is the cause of gastric outlet obstruction in an infant or newborn. The condition is congenital in nature and will normally be noted within three months after being born.

It presents in the form of forceful vomit that does not contain any bile. An obstruction in the upper gut can be caused by a foreign object that has been ingested. It is a common problem in toddlers and much older children.

A foreign object can also be detected if a toddler has a problem defecating or experiences a sudden onset of abdominal pain after eating food. It can also be caused by ingesting a caustic substance.

Projectile vomiting and diarrhea

Norovirus is one of the principal causes of stomach bugs in the UK and is known to cause diarrhea and vomiting, according to NHS. The condition is also referred to as the winter vomiting bug. This is because it mainly occurs during the winter season.

It can cause a very unpleasant experience, although it is likely to clear on its own within a few days. Its symptoms include:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Projectile vomiting
  • A sudden feeling of sickness

What to do

You should always stay at home when you start experiencing vomiting and sudden bouts of diarrhea. The condition does not have a cure and has to be allowed to run its course. You can ease the symptoms by:

  • Taking anti-vomiting medication
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Eat plain foods like soup and bread when you become hungry
  • Try and get enough rest
  • Take paracetamol for your pains, aches, and fever

Babies less than one-year-old have an increased chance of becoming dehydrated. Ensure that they take plenty of fluids at all times.

Article Resources:

  • (N.D). Cyclic vomiting

  • Clinical Methods. (2016, May). Nausea and vomiting

  • (2009, September). Gastric outlet obstruction

  • Myhill. (N.D). Gastroenteritis


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