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When Does Nausea and Vomiting Require a Trip to the ER?

It’s tricky to know when to get treatment for nausea and vomiting. Anything from a food allergy to a heart attack can cause these uncomfortable symptoms. Regardless of the reason for nausea and vomiting, dehydration is a significant concern if you can’t keep anything down. 

If you’re dealing with nausea or vomiting that doesn’t go away on its own, visit our providers at Houston Medical ER. We’re open 24/7 in Houston and Spring, Texas, so you can relax knowing our professionals are here to help you feel better in no time.

Common causes of nausea and vomiting

When deciding if your nausea and vomiting require a trip to the ER, consider these common causes:

  • Indigestion
  • Food poisoning
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Emotional stress
  • Viral illness
  • Motion sickness
  • Early pregnancy

The timing of your symptoms provides a vital clue into the cause. When they appear shortly after a meal, nausea or vomiting may indicate a mental disorder or peptic ulcer. If these symptoms appear an hour up to eight hours after a meal, you may have food poisoning or a foodborne disease.

If you have nausea that lasts for more than a week, you should see a doctor. Generally, you can treat vomiting at home, but it should subside within six to 24 hours.

When to visit the ER

If you have uncontrolled vomiting for prolonged periods and can’t keep anything down, you should seek emergency care. The very young and the elderly are especially susceptible to dehydration complications, including electrolyte balances or kidney failure. 

If you have any of the following symptoms, visit us at Houston Medical ER as soon as possible.

Vomiting blood

If you’re vomiting blood, it may indicate gastrointestinal bleeding. The blood could look green, red, or dark brown with a texture like coffee grounds. This is a major sign that you should visit the emergency room. 


If you have diarrhea, it could indicate food poisoning, the fluCOVID-19, colitis, or inflammatory bowel disease. 

If food poisoning causes nausea and vomiting, it shouldn’t last over 24 hours, although some salmonella and E. coli strains can cause uncomfortable, prolonged symptoms that require emergency care.

Inability to keep fluids down

If you’re unable to keep any clear liquids down, seek medical attention. Vomiting and diarrhea quickly lead to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include infrequent urination, a dry mouth, excessive thirst, and dizziness.


A fever along with nausea and vomiting is more than likely the result of an infection. Root causes of nausea and vomiting are less likely to occur because of acid reflux and peptic ulcers, but something like bacterial or viral gastroenteritis causes fever.

Severe pain

If you’re experiencing severe pain, you might already be headed to the emergency room for relief. Severe pain can cause nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and muscle tension, which often causes pulse and blood pressure to increase.

Nausea and vomiting in infants and children under 6

If your infant or child under age 6 is nauseated or vomiting, they should see a doctor if:

  • They have a fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Vomiting continues for more than a few hours
  • Diarrhea is also present
  • They show signs of dehydration
  • They haven’t urinated for six hours

Children over 6 years old should see a doctor if:

  • They have a fever of over 102 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Vomiting continues for a whole day
  • Vomiting and diarrhea continue beyond 24 hours
  • They show signs of dehydration
  • They haven’t urinated for six hours

If you or your child experience these symptoms, please visit us at one of our emergency rooms in Houston and Spring, Texas. You never need an appointment and can walk in or call at any time. We’re always here to support you and your family’s health.

For any medical procedure, patients respond to treatment differently, hence each patient's results may vary.
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