Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What does vomiting bile mean?
Bile is the fluid that your liver produces and is what your gallbladder stores. The main function of bile is to digest fat and it is a greenish-yellow color. Bile also helps to get rid of certain toxins from your body and get rid of blood cells that are worn out or have died. What vomiting bile means is that when you vomit, especially if it is severe, your small intestines start to contract which can allow the bile to become mixed with the contents of your stomach that is being vomited out. One way to know if you are vomiting bile is if the vomit is yellow. If your body has too much bile your body will get rid of it naturally by vomiting.
Causes for Vomiting Bile
There are many different reasons why you might be vomiting bile but there are some that are more common than others. Some of the more common causes include:
- Intestinal obstructions in your small intestine which could be the result of having inflammatory bowel disease, adhesions, or gallstones.
- Bile reflux which is a liver disorder and is similar to acid reflux. Having this medical condition is when your stomach expels bile up your esophagus instead of expelling acid. This disorder can be caused by gastric surgeries like removing your gallstones or having peptic ulcers.
- Having nothing else to purge after multiple episodes of vomiting
Other causes can include:
- Liver damage as the result of excessive alcohol or drug consumption.
- Cyclical vomiting syndrome which is a medical condition that causes without warning sporadic vomiting. This is a rare disorder. It also happens for no apparent reason and can happen to people who are healthy. Bouts of vomiting can last from one to ten days and most will see at episodes at least once a month. The reason that you might be vomiting bile with this disorder is that with the intensity and constancy of the vomiting it can irritate your stomach causing more bile production and to rid your stomach of the excessive bile you start vomiting bile.
- Being allergic to certain foods may cause you to vomit bile after eating the foods because after eating these foods it could trigger an immune system response that results in vomiting the food along with bile.
- Food poisoning which is caused by eating food that is contaminated with bacteria or other different microorganisms.
If alcohol is taken in large quantities for a prolonged period of time the lining in your stomach can become irritated and if this should happen your stomach may inadvertently cause you to start vomiting bile. There are also certain drugs, or medications, that cause you to vomit bile. Two of these are digitalis and morphine.
When a person is vomiting bile it is usually considered serious and you should see your physician to find out what the cause is and how to treat it. For example, if the cause for vomiting bile is bile reflux your physician would give you a prescription medication to lessen the production of acid and promote bile flow. If the medications are not working you would need to have surgery. Vomiting bile usually is a sign of a larger medical problem so it is not advisable to self-medicate yourself but instead should see your physician. It would be okay to use some home remedies to help with any nausea that is accompanying the vomiting. If you are vomiting a lot due having the flu or other medical condition that causes vomiting you should make sure that you are staying well hydrated.
There are also some home remedies that you can use to help with the nausea and give you temporary relief from vomiting bile.
- Drink a cup of basil-ginger tea. You make this by adding crushed ginger and basil leaves to a cup of hot water. Let steep for a few minutes and then strain before drinking. You should also add a teaspoon of honey to the strained mixture before drinking it.
- Boil some cloves, cinnamon, and water and strain before drinking.
- Drink cold lemon juice to help ease the sensations of vomiting.
- Make an apple-ginger slush by adding a teaspoon of ginger juice to a fourth cup of apple juice along with several ice cubes.
- Blend together until the mixture is slushy.
- Boil a peppermint candy in a cup of water and drink.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day
- After eating do not lie down but instead go for a walk. You need to stay up at least two to three hours after eating to give your stomach time to digest the meal.