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What Are the Causes of Vomiting & Severe Stomach Cramps?

author image Elle Paula
Elle Paula has a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from Framingham State College and a certificate in holistic nutrition from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. She is also a licensed aesthetician with advanced training in skincare and makeup. She plans to continue on with her education, complete a master's degree program in nutrition and, ultimately, become a registered dietitian.
What Are the Causes of Vomiting & Severe Stomach Cramps?
Vomiting and severe stomach cramps do not usually indicate a severe medical problem.

The body employs a number of immune system responses that protect it from invasion by infectious organisms and irritants. Vomiting, which can be triggered by the brain, digestive system and bloodstream, is one of those important immune responses. It consists of a powerful action that consists of forcing the diaphragm muscle down and propelling stomach contents up into the esophagus. Because of the strong muscle contractions involved, vomiting is often accompanied by severe stomach cramps.

Viral Gastroenteritis

Viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection that can be caused by a number of different viruses. Although this condition is commonly referred to as "the stomach flu," the influenza virus does not cause viral gastroenteritis. The infection occurs as a result of close contact with infected individuals or the consumption of contaminated food or water, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include vomiting, severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, headache, fever and chills. Most cases of viral gastroenteritis go away on their own, but since viral gastroenteritis is highly contagious, infected persons should avoid contact with other individuals while symptoms persist. It is important to stay hydrated while symptoms persist to avoid dehydration. In severe cases, hospitalization to administer intravenous salts and fluids may be required.


Over time, some people develop small pouches in the digestive system called diverticula. These pouches can form anywhere on the digestive tract, but most often develop in the large intestine, according to The condition of having these pouches is called diverticulosis and does not usually cause any symptoms. When these pouches become inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis and causes severe stomach cramps in the left side of the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, changes in bowel habits, fever and tenderness in the abdomen. In mild cases, treatment for diverticulitis consists of a liquid or low-fiber diet and antibiotics until symptoms go away. In cases where symptoms are severe or attacks of diverticulitis are recurrent, surgery may be needed to remove the affected part of the digestive tract.

Intestinal Obstruction

An intestinal obstruction is a partial or complete intestinal blockage that hinders the movement of intestinal contents. There are two types of intestinal obstruction -- mechanical and pseudo-obstruction. A mechanical obstruction occurs when something is physically blocking the intestines, such as a structural deformity or tumor. A pseudo-obstruction occurs when the bowel does not function properly, but no physical blockage is present. Symptoms of an intestinal obstruction include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal gas, abdominal pressure, breath odor and constipation, according to MedlinePlus. Treatment for an intestinal obstruction begins with the insertion of a nasogastric tube, which is placed into the nose and travels down to the stomach. The tube provides suction in order to relieve pressure in the stomach and reduce vomiting. After pressure has been relieved, further treatment for the obstruction depends on the cause. Some cases are treated with bypass techniques and some must be surgically repaired.

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