Dry heaving or retching can be quite painful on the body as well as the mind. It is often a temporary urge to vomit without any physical ability to remove the contents of the stomach, but it is scary. Dry heaving can be easily prevented by healthy lifestyle changes.
What Is Dry Heaving?
When you voluntarily or involuntarily attempt to vomit without producing any substance, it is referred to as retching or dry heaving. Dry heaving creates spasm-like movements within the respiratory system, the movements that close the glottis. Glottis is the opening located between the vocal folds. During the same time, the antrum, which is nothing but the stomach cavity, contracts and the cardia and fundus open up. All these parts are located near the esophagus in the upper stomach.
A Few Common Causes
1. Whooping Cough
Whooping cough, a contagious respiratory bacterial infection, often leads to dry heaving. With several bouts of constant coughing, people tend to retch. Whooping cough can also cause vomiting, difficulty in breathing, or certain bladder issues such as urinary incontinence.
2. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
GERD, in expanded form, is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and is one of the common causes of dry heaving. It happens when ingested food or stomach acid is forced through the esophagus causing regurgitation. These kind of retching episodes are often referred to as reflux that can lead to heartburn, dry heaves, and discomfort. These retching episodes often irritate the lining of the esophagus, which if left untreated leads to permanent damage.
3. Stress and Anxiety
Stress can affect our health to a great extent. When you go through emotional or mental stress, you are prone to get headaches, heart palpitations, or even painful retching episodes. Dry heaving triggers worry and isolation as well.
4. Drinking Excessive Alcohol
Drinking large amounts of alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to hazardous conditions, and one of them is dry heaving episodes. In such cases, vomiting occurs before the stomach gets emptied and then, retching occurs. Acetaldehyde, a chemical, forms with the alcohol content of wine, beer, and hard liquors, a substance which leads to nausea.
Pregnancy brings various symptoms, and one of them is dry heaving episodes. Retching usually occurs in women who suffer from morning sickness. While most cases of morning sickness disappear at the beginning of the second trimester, dry heaves are present throughout the entire span of pregnancy. Retching during pregnancy occurs partly due to hormonal changes, breakdown of carbs, and blood pressure fluctuation.
How To Stop Retching Episodes?
Retching can be stopped by keeping yourself well-hydrated and by eating bland foods such as white rice, eggs, plain toast, broth, tofu, crackers, and low-sugar cereals. Ginger, peppermint, and cloves are herbs and spices that can help people get relieved from retching, and clove is especially effective during pregnancy. The fragrance of lemon helps relieve symptoms of nausea and drinking rice water also helps maintain hydration and alleviate retching tendencies. You can produce rice water by boiling rice to three parts of water for approximately 20 minutes and then strain the water into a jar to slowly sip on it. Drink one cup of rice water slowly from time to time to get relieved from dry heaving episodes.
Lifestyle Changes To Prevent Retching
Bring a few healthy changes into your life and keep dry heaving tendencies at bay. All you must do is watch your alcohol consumption, eat smaller portions of meals at appropriate intervals, limit your caffeine intake to 2 to 3 cups a day, regulate your blood sugar, and maintain a healthy life by keeping yourself away from stress and anxiety. You can join a yoga class and practice meditation to bring mindfulness and holistic development, thus reducing stress and anxiety.