Nausea, Vomiting, and Loss of Appetite
Those with PASC may experience gastrointestinal problems including:
- Nausea: An unpleasant sensation in the stomach and the feeling that you are about to vomit.
- Vomiting: Also called “throwing up”, is when the body forcibly empties stomach contents into the mouth.
- Loss of Appetite: You may be experiencing a loss of appetite if you no longer feel hungry or desire to eat. You may lose weight without trying, feel like skipping meals, or feel full soon after you begin to eat.
These are all early signs of COVID-19, and many patients experience them even after they recover. Scientists think this because the virus can cause inflammatory damage in the digestive tract and change bacteria in the gut. Other causes for these symptoms might include early pregnancy, overeating, emotional distress, food allergies, food poisoning, motion sickness, and certain medications.
Seeing a Doctor for Nausea, Vomiting, and Loss of Appetite
Adults should see a doctor if they have experienced nausea for more than several days or vomiting for more than one day that does not respond to home treatment. Children over six should see a doctor if they experience vomiting for one day with either diarrhea, dehydration, fever over 101.5 degrees, or if they have not urinated in six hours. Infants and children under six should see a doctor if they experience vomiting for more than a few hours and have either diarrhea or have not urinated in 4-6 hours.
Anyone should seek immediate medical attention if they experience vomiting with:
- Blood in vomit (bright red or black)
- Rapid breathing or pulse
- Fatigue or confusion
- Severe headache or stiff neck
- Severe abdominal pain
As you prepare to see your doctor for nausea or vomiting, you may want to keep a log of the foods, drinks, and medications you consume to help your doctor determine whether certain foods trigger your symptoms.
You should see your doctor about your loss of appetite if you have lost more than 5% of your body weight in the past 3 months. If you are underweight or have an underlying condition, you may need to speak with a dietitian.
Self-Care for Nausea, Vomiting, and Loss of Appetite
To prevent nausea, you should:
- Eat small, frequent meals that are low in fat
- Eat slowly
- Consume clear, cool liquids such as water, soup, carbonated beverages, or popsicles
- Drink 30 or 60 minutes after eating instead of during mealtime
To prevent vomiting while nauseous, you should:
Gradually sip a sugar-sweetened beverage such as soda or fruit juice (but not grapefruit or orange juice, which are too acidic) Sit or lie down with your head elevated to rest Consume bland starches such as crackers, rice, or bread and avoid greasy, sugary, or fried foods
If you are vomiting:
- Avoid solid foods until the vomiting episode has passed
- Do not take any oral medications
When you experience a loss of appetite, it is still important to eat regularly. Try to consume 3 snacks and 3 small meals a day that are high in protein. High energy foods include:
- Whole wheat and whole grain bread
- Dairy products
- Seeds, nuts, and nut butters
- Chicken and fish