Nausea and vomiting natural history, complications and prognosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Vishnu Vardhan Serla M.B.B.S. [2]

Complications

Aspiration of Vomit

Vomiting can be very dangerous if the gastric content gets into the respiratory tract. Under normal circumstances the gag reflex and coughing will prevent this from occurring, however these protective reflexes are compromised in persons under narcotic influences such as alcohol or anesthesia. The individual may choke and asphyxiate or suffer an aspiration pneumonia.

Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance

Prolonged and excessive vomiting will deplete the body of water (dehydration) and may alter the electrolyte status. The loss of acids leads to metabolic alkalosis (increased blood pH), and the electrolyte imbalance shows hypokalemia (potassium depletion) and hypochloremia (chlorine depletion). The hypokalemia is an indirect result of the kidney compensating for the loss of acid. With the loss of intake of food the individual will become cachectic.

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