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June 17, 2008 10:19 AM   Subscribe

What can I do about this empty-stomach retching?

When I haven't eaten, like first thing in the mornings, I retch a little at the drop of a hat. Yeah, I know what that sounds like. BUT I'VE NEVER BEEN PREGNANT. So unfair.

I think this has only been the case since I got off the birth control pill, and I probably think that because I had some vaguely hormonal nausea-related issues in the past. When I was on the pill, for example, taking it on an empty stomach or even a relatively empty stomach would give me horrible nausea leading to copious retching and vomiting. Now, what I have feels more like a nervous stomach. If I get up quickly, or see something unsavory, smell smoke, or jeez, encounter a stiff breeze, I cough and retch a little, but it's not a down-on-my-knees-hugging-the-toilet situation. I never actually throw up from this, but I bet if I went down in front of the toilet, I surely would.

If I've eaten a meal, this goes away. Unfortunately, I can't just be putting food on my pain all the damn time. A big breakfast does not jive with my weight loss plan. I think eating too much and drinking too much booze may have contributed to this sorry state of affairs, too. So, I'm making a big effort to put those behaviors in check. I'm also a sufferer of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so this kind of thing could be yet another creative way my body expresses stress. There are many, after all.

So, that's the whole picture. Please assist. What are good ways to settle my stomach, short off going back on the pill or eating heavy foods? Herbal tea? Pepto Bismol? Old Morning Sickness aids? Any recommendations would be appreciated. Coughing and gagging in front of people is getting old. Thanks.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1. Saltines by the bedside in the morning (classic morning sickness)
2. Emetrol (a phosphated sugar syrup that really helps settle the stomach - you only take a tablespoon or so so it won't mess with your diet. I also find a popscle very helpful.
posted by metahawk at 10:27 AM on June 17, 2008

I used to have this same problem all the time - I found that eating a small amount of simple carbs (such as a piece of toast or, as metahawk suggests, saltines) helped a lot.

Of course, now that my gall bladder is gone, the problem has gone away as well. Gallstones often come along with weight loss, so if you notice any other symptoms that could be indicative of that, might be something to check out.
posted by ferociouskitty at 10:31 AM on June 17, 2008

Eat some ginger, it helps to relieve nausea. (I recommend any of the candies by The Ginger People.)
posted by phunniemee at 10:32 AM on June 17, 2008

To combine some previous answers, how about some ginger preserves on a slice of toast?
posted by contraption at 10:36 AM on June 17, 2008

If you take any medications, don't do so until you have eaten something.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:52 AM on June 17, 2008

Sounds like it could be an acid reflux type thing. Is it worse when you bend over?
posted by meta_eli at 10:56 AM on June 17, 2008

Do you have post nasal drip? That definitely comes along with the smoking and it will make you very queasy, especially on an empty stomach.

Have you tried pickle juice? It's a great stomach settler.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:18 AM on June 17, 2008

Response by poster: Ha ha, I forgot that I smoked when you met me, The Light Fantastic. Never much and no more at all. I don't think it's post-nasal drip or acid reflux, for that matter, because it doesn't feel acidic or worsen when I bend over. But hey, I eat late at night plenty, so I will try to cut that out.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:34 AM on June 17, 2008

Best answer: I used to have this ALL the time when I was on the pill. And I tried a lot of things including:

- Ginger (and Ginger People candies) is awesome, but sometimes it's too intense of a taste. If so you could try some capsules at the health food store.
- Peppermint / mints/ gum. I found a little less effective than ginger and still sometimes too intense.
- Sucking/chewing on ice or drinking something cold. It seems to numb that gaggy feeling in the back of the throat. Alternately, something warm like fennel tea is soothing.
- Tiny nibbles of toast, saltines, plain graham crackers, rice, bananas, applesauce... anything plain. (My mom always eats a little piece of hard cheese, for what it's worth!) Whatever you do, eat a little bit, because not eating makes it worse. Small meals are better for blood sugar/diet anyway.
- Sometimes pregnant woman carry sliced lemons in a bag, the scent can help.
- "Seasick" wrist straps. I didn't notice much help.
- Pepto. The liquid worked better for me than the chewables.
- Dramamine or Bonine (dimenhydrinate or meclizine). Both prevent/relieve nausea, both actually curb anxiety a bit too. Dimenhydrinate is the 'drowsier' of the two but if you are really anxious that can be a good thing. Try both and see what works for you, but either of these would be my top recommendation. I believe it's safe long term, but ask your doctor.
- Also, google some prego forums for morning sickness, you will find hundreds of tips.

For long-term, I highly suggest
- Probiotics are great for getting your digestive system on track long-term. Try something strong like Reuteri and/or Culturelle.
- If you think it's hormone related, ultimately you want to get them balanced. There are lots of natural choices depending on what other symptoms you might have.
- If you think it's stress-related, there are many options for that too. Passionflower and lots of decaf tea (or theanine) always calm me down.
- Keep a food diary such as The Daily Plate, that way you can start noticing patterns of what may be helping or making it worse. It's also great for sticking to a diet.
posted by for_serious at 11:34 AM on June 17, 2008

Hi! I yarfed this morning in the shower! My morning puke situation seems to be allergy related. When I take decongestant at night now, I don't get the pukies, but when I don't, I gag.

You did say you don't think it's post nasal drip, but I thought I'd point you to that thread in case you found a nugget of nausea-reducing happiness among the comments.
posted by Stewriffic at 12:05 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, first I would go to a doctor and make sure your digestive system or thyroid are not out of whack, and if nothing comes of that, treat this as if you had morning sickness. You can find lots of tips on any pregnancy website.

A lot of them say to eat small snacks of simple carbs throughout the day, like saltines. This works ok, but I found I prefer mild fruits like melon and banana, yogurt, sorbet, and more complex carbs like cooked brown rice or whole wheat pasta. This keeps things moving, if you know what I mean.

When you eat bread, pasta, crackers, etc., (whole wheat or not) chew and hold them in your mouth for a little longer than usual, until they taste sweet, and then swallow gradually. Your saliva breaks the food down and makes it a little easier on the stomach.

If you wake up in the middle of the night for any reason, this is a good time to get a little something into your stomach, so keep crackers or ginger snaps by the bedside.

Peppermint is good UNLESS you have acid reflux, which can be irritated by mint.

Lemon tea is nice and soothing first thing in the morning, but don't drink a lot and eat a lot at the same time. Sip beverages between meals. Sometimes gatorade is easier to take than plain water. For some people, cold drinks are easier to keep down than hot ones.

Avoid strong smells first thing in the morning, like cat food or nasty leftovers in the fridge. Yecccchh. Avoid greasy or fried food.

Sorry for the lengthy response, things just kept occurring to me.... hth.
posted by jenbeee at 1:14 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

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