Vomiting bile could mean an intestinal obstruction or gastroenteritis. It is also considered to be a symptom of food poisoning, alcohol intolerance and allergy to certain foodstuffs. Let us know what causes this condition and how is it treated from the following article.
Did You Know?
The vomit is usually faint, brown colored matter but the presence of bile makes it greenish-yellow.
Bile is a digestive juice manufactured by the liver. The bile acids, an important component of bile is primarily involved in break down and absorption of fats during digestion. Presence of bile in the vomit is indicating issues with the pyloric valve. It is discussed below:
Pyloric Valve is Open
Bile in the vomit is suggesting that the pyloric valve is open. The pyloric valve is a ring-like sphincter muscle found at the bottom of the stomach. It closes when the stomach contents have emptied completely into the small intestine. The closing of pyloric valve ensures that the contents do not flow in the backward direction. It is observed that most of the digestion takes place in the small intestine. This is where the green bile combines with the ingested food to promote digestion. So, greenish yellow vomit means that the contents of the small intestine (including the bile) have sneaked into the stomach. This can happen only when the pyloric valve is open and not closed.
What Does Vomiting Bile Mean?
Intestinal Blockage: When a person is vomiting bile, it is pointing towards the fact that the intestine is blocked. There is some kind of obstruction in the intestine that is not allowing the food to enter through it. So the ingested food, instead of moving from the stomach to the intestine, travels in the opposite direction and is finally vomited, along with the bile. The obstruction may be the result of twisting of the intestine. In other words, the structure of the intestine is distorted with too many turns and bends. This irregularity in the structure of the intestine could also be a birth defect. As a result, babies and children may frequently vomit bile due to inborn structural deformity of the intestine.
Intestinal obstruction is typically marked by severe abdominal pain. Unlike, other inflammatory bowel diseases, where the pain is tolerable, in this case the discomfort is torturing that may subside intermittently. Abdominal pain is typically accompanied by frequent bouts of green vomiting. Most importantly, the person feels constipated and there is absence of bowel movement.
Treatment: Bowel obstruction is a serious medical emergency and treating the patient at the earliest is a must to avert any complications. In most cases, a surgery is performed to unblock the bowel and correct the structural abnormality. The doctor may cut some portion of the intestine, in order to remove the structural deformity, which will help to stop episodes of vomiting bile.
Gallbladder Surgery: A person who has recently undergone a surgery involving gallbladder removal, may end up vomiting bile. There are reports of vomiting green bile in patients whose gallbladder has been removed. To be honest, vomiting bile is one of the side effects of gallbladder surgery that may last for 4-5 months post operation.
Treatment: If the vomiting persists and is followed by loss of appetite, it is not normal and suggests that the surgery hasn’t been performed properly, hence some complications have occurred. It may indicate presence of infection, inflammation of pancreas or gallstones stuck somewhere in the bile duct.
Alcohol Intolerance: Vomiting bile after drinking? Well, this could be because the body is unable to tolerate too much of alcohol intake. It is observed that heavy drinkers are prone to this type of vomiting. It indicates the body’s inability to absorb too much alcohol consumption and thus the toxic matter is thrown out of the body along with the bile.
Treatment: Alcohol intolerance being a lifelong medical condition, the best treatment involves staying away from beverages containing alcohol. In order to relieve symptoms of alcohol intolerance, taking OTC antihistamines in the appropriate dosage is recommended.
Gastroenteritis: Also, referred to as stomach flu, this is usually a viral infection of the stomach due to consumption of contaminated food and water. A person diagnosed with gastroenteritis also suffers from diarrhea, dehydration and complains about abdominal cramps. Stools in blood is an indication of a bacterial infection. However, in most cases it is viral gastroenteritis that triggers non-bloody diarrhea. In gastroenteritis, the body is unable to digest solid food for the first 2-3 days. Hence, the patient tends to vomit after taking a normal meal.
Treatment: As gastroenteritis patients vomit frequently, the risk of dehydration increases dramatically. To prevent this, increase water intake (and not carbonated drinks) to compensate for loss of fluid from the body. On the other hand, children are given electrolyte solutions to replenish fluid loss. For adults, antibiotics are prescribed if gastroenteritis is caused by bacteria. Use of antiemetics such as promethazine (Anergan) may also help to stop the vomiting.
Food Poisoning: Food that is cooked in unsanitary conditions is bound to get contaminated with various harmful microbes such as bacteria and viruses. Eating such unhygienic food can cause a number of health problems including diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. People affected with food poisoning not only vomit the contaminated food but are also seen puking yellowish bile.
Treatment: As far as treating food poisoning patients is concerned, consuming electrolyte solutions that are a good source of sodium, potassium and calcium is necessary. This rehydration therapy that is given either orally or intravenously helps to correct electrolyte imbalance. Although, diarrhea is associated with food poisoning, antidiarrheal medicines are not recommended as they are likely to aggravate the condition. Initially, you will be prohibited from eating and drinking for a few hours. Abstinence from consumption of food is then followed by a bland diet. Over time, easily digestible foods are then introduced into the diet.
Food Allergies: Eating certain foods that the person is allergic to, triggers an unexpected immune response forcing him to vomit the ingested food. This may be accompanied by stomach cramps, runny nose and breathing problems.
Treatment: You should avoid consuming allergenic foods that are detrimental to your health. A minor allergic reaction may resolve on its own but in case of a severe allergic reaction that is marked by trouble breathing and facial swelling, a trip to the hospital is necessary. Here, the patient is given epinephrine injections to control the symptoms.
Empty Stomach: Vomiting on a nearly empty stomach can also cause presence of too much bile in the vomit. When there is nothing left in the stomach and you vomit, it is obvious that only thing that will come out, is a greenish liquid, known as bile. No wonder, the vomitus appears bright green when the stomach is empty.
Home Remedies for Vomiting
Temporarily avoid solid food and drink water at regular interval throughout the day to prevent dehydration from frequent vomiting. Having a glass of cold lime juice is also very effective to stop vomiting. Taking anti-nausea herbal teas can also help to relieve vomiting. So, those who have been ‘throwing up’ repeatedly should drink cinnamon or ginger tea to get relief. Intake of fluids in the form of fruit juices such as cranberry juice can also contribute to reduce nausea and vomiting.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.