ZocdocAnswersCan stress induce vomiting?

Question

Can stress induce vomiting?

My teenage daughter vomited tonight. She has a big social event coming up tomorrow that she's very nervous about. Is it possibly the nervousness, or should we keep her home tomorrow? How can you tell the difference if she's actually sick?

Answer

Normal physiology can be altered greatly in those undergoing a stressful situation. It can serve a beneficial role such as when in a dangerous situation (fight or flight response). On the other hand, it can cause negative effects which can present differently in different people. Stomach upset, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting are all possible symptoms of stress in both the acute and chronic setting. From the description provided, it is difficult to ascertain if the vomiting was associated with the onset of the stressful experience or another underlying cause, although it seems that her vomiting episode occurred one day prior to a stressful situation makes it very likely that it is related to stress. If she had other associated symptoms such as fever, this may point to another underlying cause. There are many good stress relieving exercises including yoga, deep breathing, and biofeedback which may help your daughter cope with these stressful situations in a healthier manner. Discuss these with her primary care doctor or other mental health professional who may be able to recommend further stress relieving exercises. Of course there are anti anxiety medications that are also available but these are generally considered only after the other stress relieving exercises have failed.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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