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What Is the Treatment for Brown Vomit?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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While occasional vomiting may not signal a serious issue, persistent or severe symptoms warrant medical attention. According to the Mayo Clinic, vomiting can result from various conditions, ranging from food poisoning to gastrointestinal disorders. Brown vomit, specifically, might indicate bleeding in the digestive tract, especially if it resembles coffee grounds. 

The National Health Service (NHS) recommends seeking medical advice if you're concerned about vomiting, particularly if it's recurrent or accompanied by other symptoms. Staying hydrated is essential, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that adults should drink about 3.7 liters of fluids for men and 2.7 liters for women daily, more if vomiting or diarrhea occurs. 

For tailored treatment, consult a healthcare provider, as they can diagnose the underlying cause of brown vomit after drinking Coke and recommend an appropriate course of action.

Most cases of brown vomit are caused by eating and then regurgitating brown-colored foods or drinks. Soft drinks, coffee, chocolate, and other substances can all affect the appearance of vomit. In these cases, vomiting is probably caused by either eating too much or by a bacterial infection in the intestines. Usually, resting, drinking plenty of water, and sometimes taking an anti-vomiting or anti-nausea medication is all that is needed. The majority of vomiting cases will run their course without the use of medication within a few days, or often sooner.

Occasionally, digestive bile can also cause brownish vomit if it is regurgitated along with the regular vomit. Bile may be released as vomit in those with a digestive obstruction or who have consumed large amounts of alcohol. It is also possible to throw up bile if one has vomited so much that there is no food remaining in the stomach. Brown-colored bile is relatively uncommon, as yellow is the normal color of stomach bile. Patients may be able to tell if the vomit coming up is actually bile by the increased sour taste of it.

Although most cases are harmless, there are some cases of brown vomit which can be more serious. Bowel obstructions, severe infections, tumors, ulcers and other conditions can all lead to brown vomit. This is sometimes due to blood in the digestive tract, although blood may also appear bright red in color. Some conditions are also typically related to severe abdominal pain. The location and severity of pain will depend on the exact condition and how progressed it is.

Anyone who is experiencing severe vomiting, especially that which seems unusual in color or consistency, should speak with a medical professional. Although it is a likely that the condition causing these symptoms is nothing to worry about, there are some serious health problems which can be quite severe or even fatal if not taken care of immediately. Especially worrisome symptoms which may accompany vomiting can include vomit that looks like coffee grounds, pain radiating from the belly button over to the right lower portion of the stomach, blood in the vomit or stools, severe diarrhea, and intense abdominal pain.

What Is Coffee Ground Vomitus? 

Coffee ground vomitus is a form of brown vomit. Its name may make you believe it is caused by drinking coffee, but this is not the case. Instead, it got its name because the vomit itself looks like brown coffee grounds. 

The look and color of coffee ground vomitus happen because coagulated blood is present in the vomit. According to Healthline, this is also known as hematemesis. 

If you find yourself vomiting blood, you should go to the hospital immediately because it is a severe health concern. Other common symptoms that are commonly present with coffee ground vomitus include dizziness, fainting, pain in the chest or stomach, and pale skin. 

A variety of factors can cause coffee ground vomitus, which can be a sign of serious health problems and conditions, including: 

  • Cancer
  • Infectious diseases
  • Cirrhosis 
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Hepatitis

Your doctor can help you determine precisely what is causing your hematemesis through tests, X-rays, endoscopies, and studies. Your treatment will depend on what causes your symptoms. 

What Color Should My Vomit Be? 

Unfortunately, there’s no one right or wrong answer to what color your vomit should be. If you’re vomiting in the first place, you are probably experiencing some kind of illness or stomach trouble. However, the color of your vomit can indicate differing concerns, so being able to determine health issues based on color can help. We’ve already covered brown, so let’s break down other colors your vomit can be and what it means. 

Clear Vomit

Clear vomit could indicate a concussion or brain injury, pregnancy, migraine, or food poisoning. Your vomit can be clear when you don’t have any food in your digestive tract but still feel nauseous enough to throw up. 

Foamy Vomit

Foamy or white vomit is a pretty clear sign of acid reflux. Treat this symptom by taking Tums or another medication to settle the pain in your abdomen or chest. 

Green or Yellow Vomit

Green or yellow vomit almost always indicates that you are throwing up bile. Like clear vomit, you usually throw up green or yellow vomit when there is nothing in your stomach, so your body resorts to throwing up bile instead. 

Orange Vomit

Orange vomit could mean several different health issues, such as migraines, morning sickness, the flu, stomach flu, or food poisoning. 

Red Vomit

Red vomit, like coffee ground vomitus, is a cause for concern because it means that there is blood in your vomit. If your vomit is pink or red, it could reveal numerous serious health issues. You should call your doctor immediately and seek medical attention. 

How To Treat Vomiting at Home

If you are nauseous and need to find a remedy for vomiting, use one of the following tips. 

  1. Drink a lot of water. You can also supplement water with extra hydration and electrolytes through products such as Liquid IV, Gatorade, or Pedialyte. 
  2. You can also drink tea. Tea is known to help settle the stomach, particularly peppermint and ginger tea. 
  3. Sucking on ice chips or popsicles can be a nice relief from vomiting and soothing to your throat. 
  4. Take deep breaths through your nose. 
  5. Sleep as much as you can. Not only will this help you heal from your ailments, but you will feel better by not being conscious and feeling the unpleasant side effects of nausea. 
  6. Do not eat any more food. You will most likely throw it up. 
  7. If you eventually stop throwing up but still feel nauseous, try eating dry and bland foods like saltines or other plain crackers to fill your stomach without upsetting it. 
  8. Try to avoid medications, but if you haven’t thrown up in a few hours and still feel nauseous, you can try taking Dramamine or other anti-nausea medicines to see if it helps. 

When To Go to the Hospital for Vomiting

It’s hard to determine whether you should go to the hospital for vomiting. Sometimes the vomiting will go away on its own such as in cases of food poisoning, drinking too much alcohol, or stomach flu. 

However, if your vomiting is paired with other symptoms, you should most likely visit the doctor. These symptoms include: 

  • Severe headache
  • Light-headedness or fainting
  • Inability to breathe
  • Sharp chest pain
  • Unusual drowsiness
  • Numb limbs

These could all be symptoms of more severe health conditions, so seeking medical care is imperative. 

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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