13 Feel-Better Remedies
Forget the stomach settlers. It's too late. Those familiar potionsâ€”Pepto-Bismol, Maalox, Mylantaâ€”are not designed to stop vomiting, says Samuel Klein, M.D., an assistant professor of gastroenterology and human nutrition at the University of Texas Medical School at Galveston. "Take them only if the vomiting is related to too much stomach acid. For instance, if you have a stomach ulcer or something you ate is causing irritation," he says. Then they might work by neutralizing excess acid or soothing irritation. Otherwise, forget it.
Replace fluids. "The ultimate goals for someone who's got a lot of vomiting are to not get dehydrated and to not lose weight," says nausea researcher Kenneth Koch, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Pennsylvania State University's Hershey Medical Center. You lose a lot of fluid in vomiting, so the best thing you can do is drink fluids to replace those lost.
These fluids should be clear liquids, Dr. Klein says: water, weak tea, juices. Even fluids like milk or heavy soups may be too much to handle.
Replace important nutrients. Vomiting also flushes out minerals. Dr. Klein recommends you take electrolyte drinks to replace these nutrients: Gatorade and Pedialyte, clear soups, or juices like apple or cranberry. Water is better than nothing, but ideally you should add a couple pinches of salt and sugar to each glass. "I often have patients sipping Gatorade every half hour," Dr. Koch says.
Sip, not slurp. Sipping your fluids in tiny swallows lets your irritated stomach adjust, Dr. Koch saysâ€”no chug-a-lugging. Sip no more than 1 or 2 ounces at a time, Dr. Koch advises. Otherwise, it could be, aprÅ½s fluid, le deluge.
Determine your own timing. The less fluid you're sipping at a time, the more often you have to sip. How frequently you take fluids depends on how your stomach reacts. Once you know you can keep the last sip down, sip some more.
Use the color code. If your urine is deep yellow, you're not getting enough fluid. The paler it gets, the better you're doing to prevent dehydration.
Go for warmth. Our experts advise against cold drinks, which shock sensitive stomachs. Room temperature or warm drinks are best, Dr. Koch says.
Let the fizz out. Tiny bubblesâ€”just what you don't need if you're vomiting. Let your favorite clear carbonated drinks stand until they go flat before you start sipping.
Settle down with syrup. A good stomach settler, says Robert Warren, Pharm.D., director of Pharmacy Services at Valley Children's Hospital in Fresno, California, is Coke syrup. "We don't know why it works," Dr. Warren says, "but it does." It also is a good source of easily digestible concentrated carbohydrates (and it tastes good, too!). The children's dose is 1 to 2 teaspoons, adults' dose is 1 to 2 tablespoons, as often as needed between bouts of vomiting.
Or try the drugstore alternative. If you want a more medical-sounding syrup, try Emetrol, Dr. Warren suggests. It's a phosphorated carbohydrate solution that works the same way. A caution: None of these sugar-rich syrups is recommended for diabetics without a doctor's okay, Dr. Warren says.
Start with carbohydrates. Sooner or later, vomiting will end. The experts say the best way to start eating again is with a gelatin dessert.
"Jell-O is the traditional hospital way to begin eating after a period of vomiting," Dr. Warren says. It's mostly liquid, easy on the stomach, high in carbohydrates, and tastes good. Other bland foods like nonbuttered toast or crackers are also good postvomiting treats.
Add a light protein. "When you're feeling a little better, you can move on to a light protein like chicken breast or fish," Dr. Koch says. Chicken noodle or chicken with rice soup is perfect for this, he says. Be sure to skim off as much fat from the soup as you can.
Leave fat for last. Fat stays in the stomach too long and can thus add to the bloated, full feeling, Dr. Koch says. So avoid fatty meats and cream soups.