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What Can Cause Vomiting Foam?

Stomach bile or saliva can cause foam in vomit.
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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 March 2014
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Most causes of vomiting foam are not serious, and they may include air coming back up with the food, throwing up stomach bile, or even vomiting swallowed saliva. Other times, vomiting foam can be a sign of a serious medical condition such as pancreatitis or heart conditions. In dogs, foamy vomit can be the sign of bloat, a life threatening medical condition.

In the majority of cases, vomiting foam will be nothing to worry about. Many times it simply means that there wasn't much food left in the stomach at the time, so stomach bile or even previously swallowed saliva comes up instead. Liquid vomit can also come up mixed with air, giving it a foamy appearance. This may be more likely in those who have been throwing up a lot previously or who have felt nauseated for a long period of time, since this means that an empty stomach is more likely.

Vomiting foam can also be caused by throwing up stomach bile. In some cases this could be indicative of a more serious health condition, such as liver failure, but much of the time it is caused by drinking too much alcohol or having a empty stomach. When someone throws up all of their stomach contents and doesn't replenish them, that person may have to vomit again but have nothing to come up. Eventually, the gagging associated with vomiting can bring bile up instead.

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In some cases, vomiting foam can be caused for concern. It can be the sign of certain digestive disorders of the pancreas or liver, especially if the foam is persistent or if vomiting only results in the regurgitation of foam rather than food. In many cases, there will be other symptoms present along with the vomiting. These can include abdominal pain, cramping, and in the case of liver problems, a discoloration of the skin.

Many times, vomiting foam is associated with dogs and cats. In animals, this could be the sign of a serious medical conditions known as bloat. Bloat is a flipping of the stomach, and it is most common in large breed dogs. Cats may also have foamy vomit with some health conditions, including heart problems.

Anyone with vomit containing foam should seek medical attention, especially if other symptoms are present and vomiting is persistent. If an animal is throwing up, emergency vet care may be needed. If bloat is to blame, it can kill an animal fairly quickly so immediate treatment is required.

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Discuss this Article

anon925876
Post 8

Vomiting up foam and bile is really not fun at all. Once when I had food poisoning, I was vomiting terribly to the point I became very dehydrated and went into hypovolemic shock. My boyfriend had to call an ambulance for me and I ended up in hospital overnight.

My only other encounter with vomiting up foam was after I nearly drowned due to a surfing accident. I was vomiting up salty water, sand, foam and even a bit of sea weed. It was horrible.

Turquoise28
Post 7

Someone please give me good advice rather than a 'go see a doctor.' Yesterday, I got a runny nose and I kept sneezing. My throat started to feel coarse and dry. I made myself a honey and lemon drink to soothe down the pain. My throat was feeling a bit better but my throat still felt like sandpaper.

After a while, I got in bed then I fell asleep at around 11pm. I woke up about 2 a.m. after I had problems breathing. I found out that I was drooling a lot (I don't usually drool in my sleep) and I kept swallowing it as I was breathing. Then I had the urge to puke.

I went to the bathroom and faced my toilet, but no puke came out. I tried forcing out the puke because the feeling of it was terrible and I just wanted to get it over with. Instead of puke, half a mouthful of foam came out and I was confused and scared. Today I took strepsils for my throat. I haven't puked again but I've been burping a lot. Can someone please tell me what could have been the cause of this? Thanks.

turquoise
Post 6

My dog vomits white and yellow foam sometimes. I've had him checked out by the vet and he didn't find anything wrong. The vet said that it's possibly because of stomach upset and excess bile. My dog only does this when he eats grass, so he eats grass on purpose to vomit.

I think he feels nauseated and doesn't know what else to do. He also doesn't want to eat, which is why he is vomiting bile and not food.

I feel sad when it happens but it's not often. And I'm glad there is nothing wrong with him otherwise. I was fearful that he had a problem with his liver, thankfully all his tests came back normal. When he vomits foam, I let him get some fresh air first. Then I keep him warm and feed him dog biscuits which seem to settle his stomach.

discographer
Post 5

I had this happen to me once and it was horrible! I got food poisoning while traveling. I had bad food for dinner and I got sick in the middle of the night. I threw up so much that after the food, I started to vomit bile and eventually foam. I had never experienced something like that before. I didn't even know that it's possible to throw up bile.

I was taken to the ER and given an IV with antibiotics. I immediately started feeling better and stopped vomiting foam only then. I hope I never experience this again. Not fun!

StarJo
Post 4

My sister's cat got food poisoning and began throwing up foam. At first, my sister didn't know why her cat was sick. Then, she saw that it had managed to open the trash can and get inside.

My sister had thrown out some old cat food a few days earlier, and it had gone bad inside the trash can. The cat had lifted the lid and eaten a bunch of it.

She took the cat to the vet, who gave her fluids and antibiotics through an IV. The old cat food was full of bacteria, which had to be flushed out of her system.

OeKc05
Post 3

Sometimes, a dog will vomit white foam and be just fine. My dog tends to eat grass to make herself vomit when she is feeling ill, and afterward, she returns to normal. Most dog owners have seen their dogs doing this at some point, and if they are otherwise behaving normally, it isn't a cause for concern.

However, if a dog is experiencing bloat, then you can tell something is wrong. The foamy vomit is the same, but she will act scared and her abdomen will feel hard and appear bigger than normal.

My neighbor's Doberman had bloat, and luckily, she lived only minutes from a vet. Dogs with bloat can die in an hour if not treated.

seag47
Post 2

@lighth0se33 – Once you get to the point that you are vomiting foam, if you vomit several more times, it is best to seek treatment. I experienced this when I was nine years old, and I just could not quit vomiting, even after I had nothing left but bubbly bile.

My parents feared I was about to become dehydrated, so they took me to the doctor right away. He put me in the hospital, where I received an IV to replace my fluids.

They discovered that I had rotavirus. I had to stay in the hospital for a week, because at home, I would have dehydrated from all the vomiting and diarrhea. The only treatment was fluids and anti-nausea shots, and I had to be on a liquid diet for days.

lighth0se33
Post 1
Throwing up foam and bile is disgusting. I got sick a lot as a child, and after I had thrown up all the food I had inside of me, I would often throw up this gross mixture.

It tasted so bitter in my mouth. I don't even know what to compare it to, because it doesn't taste like anything you would purposely put in your mouth. Only someone who has vomited it up can really know what it's like.

It is terrible to keep vomiting once you have nothing left but foamy bile. It makes you dread the next vomiting episode even more.

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