Dry Heaving: Causes and its Connection to Gastrointestinal Issues

Dry heaving is a common symptom experienced by many individuals. It can leave one feeling uncomfortable and fatigued, potentially leading to dehydration and malnutrition. There are various factors that can trigger dry heaving, including gastrointestinal issues and other underlying conditions. This blog post aims to explore the causes of dry heaving and shed light on its connection to gastrointestinal problems.


1. Definition and Symptoms of Dry Heaving:

Dry heaving refers to the sensation of vomiting even when there is no food or liquid in the stomach. It is often accompanied by feelings of stomach discomfort, nausea, dry mouth, and abdominal unease.

2. Dry Heaving Caused by Gastrointestinal Problems:

Gastroenteritis: Gastroenteritis refers to inflammation of the stomach lining or intestines caused by infection or irritation. It can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and dry heaving. Gastroenteritis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or other pathogens, with food poisoning being the most common cause.

Intestinal Infections: Intestinal infections are usually caused by viral or bacterial agents and can result in symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and dry heaving. Common pathogens responsible for intestinal infections include norovirus, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): GERD is a condition characterized by the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation and dry heaving. GERD is often caused by excess stomach acid or dysfunction of the esophageal sphincter.

3. Other Factors Contributing to Dry Heaving:

Emotional Stress and Anxiety: Emotional stress and anxiety can disrupt gastrointestinal function, leading to dry heaving and other digestive issues. Stress and anxiety can impact the nervous system, causing digestive disturbances.

Motion Sickness and Travel-related Motion Sickness: Prolonged periods of sitting in a vehicle, flying, or sailing can trigger dry heaving, commonly known as motion sickness. This is due to the disturbance of the balance system, resulting in conflicting signals to the brain and subsequent dry heaving.

Medication Side Effects: Certain medications can have side effects, including dry heaving. Some antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and antiemetics (anti-nausea medications) may cause adverse reactions in the gastrointestinal system, leading to dry heaving.

Pregnancy: During pregnancy, hormonal changes and pressure from the uterus on the digestive organs can contribute to dry heaving. Morning sickness is a common form of dry heaving experienced during the first trimester of pregnancy.


Dry heaving is a common symptom that can be caused by various factors. Gastrointestinal issues, including gastroenteritis, intestinal infections, and GERD, are among the primary causes. Additionally, emotional stress, anxiety, motion sickness, medication side effects, and pregnancy can also trigger dry heaving. Understanding the underlying causes of dry heaving can help in managing and preventing its occurrence. If dry heaving is severe or persists for an extended period, it is advisable to seek medical advice for evaluation and treatment.


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