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Clinician’s Corner: Vomiting Causes

Vomiting is a protective reflex that allows us to rid ourselves of ingested toxins or poisons. There are five principle neurotransmitter receptors responsible for vomiting.   Your Thompson Pharmacist is familiar with the mechanism of action of all of the nausea medications.

Who invited these guys to my Christmas Party…?  Listed below are the three most common viruses implicated in nausea and vomiting.

  • Norovirus (Norwalk-like virus) is common among school-age children. It may also cause outbreaks in hospitals and on cruise ships. It is the most common GI virus. Just this week the Royal Caribbean Ship- Independence of the Seas had a huge outbreak of Norwalk virus. Over 300 passengers were sickened with this quick spreading virus.
  • Rotavirus is the leading cause in children. It can also infect adults who are exposed to children with the virus, and people living in nursing homes. Vaccination has greatly reduced this virus
  • Enteric adenovirus: can cause systemic infection

The Christmas Germ Exchange-  We exchange presents, cards, food, handshakes, hugs and kisses at Christmas time.  We also exchange a lot of bacteria and viruses!

  • Most viruses and bacteria are passed from person to person by unwashed hands. Other potential causes can be:
    • Improper handling of food
    • Improper cooking of shellfish
    • Improper hand washing after toileting
    • Surfaces not properly sanitized after food preparation.
  • A vaccine to prevent rotavirus infection is recommended for infants starting at age 2 months. (Rotavirus is the leading cause of viral gastroenteritis in kids up to 2 years of age)

I have this vomiting …was it something I ate at the party??

Raw seafood Norwalk-like virus, Vibrio, hepatitis A
Raw eggs Salmonella 
Undercooked meat or poultry SalmonellaCampylobacter, E. coli (STEC), Clostridium perfringens
Unpasteurized milk or juice Salmonella spp, Campylobacter, E. coli, Yersinia enterocolitica
Unpasteurized soft cheeses SalmonellaCampylobacter, E.coli (STEC)

Yersinia enterocoliticaListeria monocytogenes

Homemade canned goods Clostridium botulinum
Raw hot dogs, deli meat Listeria monocytogenes


GETS YOU SICK   (less serious) GETS YOU TO THE HOSPITAL  (serious)
Novovirus Clostridium botulinum
Salmonella Listeria
Clostridium perfringens Shiga-Toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC)
Campylobacter Vibrio
Staphylococcus aureus  

Now What happens??

  • The CTZ (chemoreceptor trigger zone) is located in the brain. It is the major sensing organ for vomiting, usually associated with chemically induced vomiting.  Because of its location, nausea causing toxins have easy access to the CTZ.  It is our defense against ingesting poisons; our brain works to eliminate these toxins form our GI tract. This mechanism frequently “kicks in” during cancer chemotherapy.  This mechanism also “kicks in” to eliminate those toxins and viruses that we are exposed to these holidays.

All of us at Thompson Pharmacy wish you and yours a Healthy and Happy Holiday Season.  Remember to wash your hands frequently, sneeze into your elbow, and prepare foods according to package instructions.  Refrigerate leftovers promptly.  Share your blessings with each other.  At Thompson Pharmacy it’s all for YOU!