There's A Reason That You Get Sweaty When You Need To Throw Up

When you feel yourself colliding with a wave of nausea, there are often a few warning signs that the body gives us in the moments before we get physically sick. This may include gagging, turning pale, an accelerated heart rate, as well as increased sweating.

While woefully unpleasant, vomiting is actually one of the many ways in which our body works to protect us (via Queensland Health). Whether from infection, food poisoning, or motion sickness, the body detects the presence of a threat and responds by expelling it from our system in order to keep us healthy.

How exactly does the body achieve this? Well, upon identifying a threat, the brain's chemoreceptor trigger zone (CTZ) becomes activated. If the CTZ decides that throwing up is the best offense against the intruder, it will initiate the vomiting process by sending signals to the rest of the body. According to BBC Science Focus, these intruders can range from stress hormones, toxic contaminants, or even swaying sensations that offset the body's sense of equilibrium.

Activation of the sympathetic nervous system

The need to throw up may be set off by a number of things, including food allergies, pregnancy, migraines, certain medications, the stomach flu, and more (via Penn Medicine). While certain warning signs, like gagging, may make sense, the connection between sweating and vomiting may seem a little less obvious.

As you begin to vomit, the body increases saliva production in the mouth (via BBC Science Focus). This serves as a protective coating for your mouth and teeth against impending stomach acid exposure. The body then triggers you to inhale deeply to prevent vomit from entering the lungs. Your diaphragm then creates pressure in the stomach through a series of short, sharp contractions, which also prompts dry heaving. The body then seals off the entryway to the lungs as your stomach muscle contract and the exit at the bottom of the stomach closes shut.

The last step is where the sweating comes in. As your sympathetic nervous system activates, your heart rate increases and the body releases sweat to then cool itself down.

Take action after vomiting

After you've thrown up, it usually feels like the worst is over. However, it's important to tend to your body after the fact to ensure you stay healthy and hydrated. First and foremost, avoid reaching for your toothbrush. Brushing any residual stomach acid around in the mouth after vomiting can erode enamel (via Queensland Health). Rather, simply swish and spit with water or a fluoride-containing mouthwash.

Next, start replenishing the liquids and electrolytes lost. While water is great, mixing in some electrolyte powder packets can be even better. Afterwards, be sure to rest. If you get hungry, stick with something light, like crackers or toast, and steer clear of alcohol, coffee, or sugary beverages.

While sweating usually subsides after your body has purged itself, if you continue to experience additional symptoms such as weakness, blurry vision, or trouble walking or talking, seek medical care. The same is true if vomiting lasts for more than one day, you are unable to keep down liquids for 12 or more hours, have not peed in 8 or more hours, or you've thrown up three or more times in a 24-hour period (per Penn Medicine). Severe belly pain, as well as neck stiffness or headache that accompany vomiting also warrant medical attention.