Question: My daughter vomited tonight, and she has a big social event coming up tomorrow that she’s very nervous about. Is it possible that she vomited because of stress?
Answer: Stress is a very common source of physical symptoms. In fact, the gut is a prime area for these symptoms to manifest because there are many neurons in the gut (100 million). For this reason, we experience many of our emotions in the gut, including positive emotions (such as “butterflies”) and negative emotions (feeling one’s stomach “in knots”). In general, nausea is a fairly non-specific physical symptom, meaning that it has a long list of possible causes, including: emotional, food related, substance related (e.g. alcohol), gastro-intestinal (e.g. acid reflux, IBS), cardiovascular (heart pain or aortic issues can be referred to the abdomen). Fortunately, most of the time nausea is benign and self limited (meaning it goes away by itself). In a case like your daughter’s, a common recommendation is to wait and see if the symptom persists (e.g., if she is still nauseated after the event she was nervous about). If she is, then there may be a physical cause that warrants going for a check up. If not, it’s probably just anxiety.
N.B. This blog is for informational purposes only and nothing in this should be construed as establishing a doctor patient relationship or the provision of medical advice.