Nausea and vomiting, often considered more of an unpleasant inconvenience than a medical problem, can be debilitating and can cause prolonged recovery times and increased costs. In critically ill patients, severe or protracted nausea and vomiting can lead to serious complications, which can be life-threatening. The authors present the physiological mechanisms of nausea and vomiting and compare therapeutic agents recommended for treating and preventing nausea and vomiting. Because most episodes of nausea and vomiting are preventable, implications for critical care nursing will focus on prevention rather than control.

The topic of nausea and vomiting is all too familiar to most nurses. Nausea and vomiting are unpleasant complications or indications of many medical conditions and are adverse effects of hundreds of medications. Nausea and vomiting occur so frequently that they are almost considered “acceptable,” usually referred to as “minor” and...

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