Causes of Nausea, Vomiting & Cough

Nausea is a sensation of illness that causes vomiting, which is a forceful action that brings the stomach contents up through the esophagus and out of the mouth. Coughing is a forceful movement that removes substances from the airways. Nausea, vomiting and cough are all defense mechanisms triggered by the body in an effort to keep potentially harmful organisms from invading the body and causing illness. Unfortunately, when nausea, vomiting and cough occur together, it usually signifies an underlying sickness or condition.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

When a person swallows food, it travels down the esophagus, through the lower esophageal sphincter and into the stomach. After the food travels into the stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter closes to prevent backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition in which the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly and allows swallowed food, stomach acid and other stomach contents back into the esophagus. This can result in a burning pain in the chest called heartburn as well as nausea, coughing, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, hiccups and sore throat.

MedlinePlus notes that risk factors for the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease include obesity, cigarette smoking, pregnancy and the use of certain medications. Mild cases of gastroesophageal reflux disease can be managed by avoiding trigger foods, eating smaller meals and avoiding lying down directly after meals. Moderate to severe cases may require regular use of medication.

Whooping Cough

Whopping cough, medically referred to as pertussis, is a respiratory tract infection caused by bacteria. The infection is transmitted through airborne particles that are spread through sneezing and coughing. Once the bacteria invade the respiratory tract, they multiply quickly and produce a toxin that causes mucus to accumulate in the airways. This excess mucus causes the hoarse, uncontrollable coughing that is characteristic of pertussis. Other initial symptoms include runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and low fever. As the infection progresses, it can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, redness of the face and a more intense cough. Older children and adults with pertussis can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Young children will pertussis may require hospitalization, during which time intravenous fluids and antibiotics are administered.


Influenza is one of the most common respiratory infections and is caused by influenza viruses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the influenza viruses can be spread to others from up to 6 feet away. The severity of influenza varies between individuals. Most people experience minor illness and recover within a couple of weeks, while others face life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia.

Common symptoms of influenza include fever, chills, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, runny nose, stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. Low-risk individuals do not require any treatment for influenza. Increased fluid intake and bed rest are recommended until the symptoms go away. High-risk individuals, such as those with compromised immune systems, may require hospitalization.

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