Digestive system

Dry heaving- 15 Causes, Symptoms, How to stop, Home remedies

Dry heaving is a very uncomfortable feeling. Dry heaving is also known as retching. When you have dry heaving, you have a feeling of vomiting or nausea. You also try to vomit, but nothing actually comes out from your mouth. Sometimes, you may actually vomit after sometime after having dry heaving, but it doesn’t occur always.

There are several causes of dry heaving, if you are able to find out the cause of these dry heaves, and follow proper treatment, home remedies, and try to prevent it, it is definitely controllable.

Dry heaving or dry heaves causes:

dry heaving
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During dry heaving, your trachea or airway is closed, and the diaphragm that separates the chest and the abdomen contracts. This produces the feeling of vomiting and dry heaving, but nothing comes out while trying to vomit. There are several causes of dry heaving like:


Exercise is really good for health. But, you need to do it in the correct way, and at the correct time. If not, it can be harmful to your health too. For example, if you suddenly start off doing high-intensity exercise without having prior experience of exercising, it can cause dry heaves. So, to avoid this kind of dry heaving, start with simple exercises at first, and gradually build your stamina towards high-intensity workouts.

Also, doing exercise after having a meal can lead to dry heaving. So, to avoid this retching or dry heaves, never do exercise immediately after a meal. Don’t have heavy meals before exercise. Have a gap of at least an hour or 2 hours before exercising. If you seem to develop dry heaving in between your exercise, try to take some rest, and then slowly start exercise.

Vomiting side effect:

If you have been feeling nauseous and vomiting continuously for few times, this can also make you develop dry heaving. Dry heaves can be an after effect of the act of vomiting itself.

Drinking alcohol excessively:

Alcohol needs to be consumed in moderation. Otherwise, it can have several ill effects. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to vomiting and dry heaving. Also, having alcohol on empty stomach can aggravate the symptoms of dry heaves.

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So, try to eat something when you drink alcohol. Also, try to avoid drinking excessively. If you develop dry heaves or nausea when drinking alcohol, then stop drinking immediately, and try to eat something salty like salted biscuits, etc as they can slow down dry heaves.


Stress is the root cause of many different ailments. If you are very stressed for a prolonged period of time, or if you have severe stress all of a sudden, then it can develop dry heaving in you. If you are very worried due to any cause like having a speech or presentation or interview or exam, etc, you can notice that you will be having abnormal sensation in your stomach or tummy, and you might even develop dry heaves.


It is the abbreviation of Gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is also known with the name of acid reflux. It leads to regurgitation of acidic stomach contents into your mouth. You feel a sour substance coming into your mouth.

This substance can also go into your airways and lead to coughing. This condition can also lead to difficulty in swallowing and breathing. GERD can also lead to dry heaving in some people. GERD can be controlled with the help of drugs prescribed by physicians along with lifestyle modifications like eating small frequent meals, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, doing regular exercise, avoiding spicy and oily foods.

Intestinal infections:

If you are having any intestinal infection including gastroenteritis or food poisoning due to preformed bacterial toxins, then you might experience dry heaving, and vomit along with diarrhea.


If you are having severe gastritis, you will have symptoms of epigastric pain or pain just below your ribs, pain behind your breastbone or sternum, and also retching or dry heaving.


It is a condition where appendix, which is present at the junction of cecum and ileum is inflamed or swollen. In this condition, there is severe pain around the belly button at first, which later shifts to the Mcburney’s point which is present in the right side of the abdomen. These people also have severe dry heaving, and vomiting.

Chronic renal disease:

In people who have chronic renal diseases, there is an accumulation of an excess of urea and creatinine in the blood of the person. This can lead to nausea, dry heaving, and vomiting.

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Intracranial disorders:

Persons who have any mass occupying disorder like a brain tumor, in the cranium or skull, can elevate the intracranial pressure. This can lead to nausea, vomiting and dry heaving, along with many other symptoms like a severe headache. Conditions like meningitis can also lead to these symptoms.


Pregnancy is a condition when a woman’s body undergoes many changes, including hormonal changes. During this time, a woman can have severe nausea and vomiting, dry heaves mainly in the first 3 months of pregnancy. But, some pregnant women with a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum have dry heaves and vomiting throughout the pregnancy which subsides on delivering the child.


Drugs have many side effects. Some drugs used to treat conditions like depression, anxiety or tension disorders (antidepressants and anxiolytics), have side effects like dry heaving and vomiting. So, you need to take these drugs with proper advise from your physician.

Migraine headache:

A migraine headache can also lead to dry heaving, vomiting along with severe one-sided headache, vision problems, etc.

Inner ear problems:

Our inner ear has 2 parts called the cochlea and the vestibule. The cochlea is responsible for our hearing while vestibule is the balancing organ of the body. If there is any problem with the vestibule, then you can have symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dry heaving, balance problems, vertigo, problems with gait or walking, etc.

Severe pain:

If you are having severe pain due to any reason, then you might develop dry heaving and vomiting as a compensatory mechanism.

Other conditions causing dry heaves:
  • Chronic liver problems or disorders
  • In people taking insulin and developing sudden hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels
  • Pancreatic problems like pancreatitis

Dry heaving symptoms:

Several symptoms can be experienced by a person who is having dry heaves like:

  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Palpitations
  • Dryness of the mouth and throat
  • Anorexia or loss of appetite
  • Pain in the abdomen or stomach

How to stop dry heaving or dry heaves-Home remedies for dry heaving:

  • Adequate hydration: Dehydration can make you develop feelings of dry heave, so drink sufficient water throughout the day to keep dry heaves at bay. Try to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to stay healthy.
  • Reduce caffeine intake: caffeine is present in coffee, tea, and chocolates. Caffeine can aggravate feelings of retching. So, try to limit intake of caffeine based foods
  • Stop alcohol intake. As we have discussed, alcohol can lead to dry heaves. So, try to stop it.
  • Avoid eating fatty and spicy foods as they can cause discomfort to your gastrointestinal tract when having dry heaving.
  • If you are developing nausea when exercising, stop the exercise and take some rest.
  • Never lie on your abdomen when you have eaten your meals, as this can lead to dry heaving and vomiting
  • Eat bland and soft foods that are easy to digest when you are experiencing dry heaves.
  • Don’t eat heavy large meals. Try to eat small frequent meals every 3 hours.
  • Eat sweet foods if you are diabetic on insulin, and develop dry heaving. This helps to correct low blood sugar levels and controls dry heaving.
  • Try to take ginger by sucking a piece of ginger directly or by drinking a ginger tea regularly as it helps to reduce nausea and dry heaving.
  • Aromatherapy with ginger, peppermint, and cardamom oils can also reduce the feelings of nausea and retching.
  • Antacids: You can take antacids syrups like Maalox which contain aluminum or magnesium hydroxide, as they help to reduce acidity or GERD which is responsible for dry heaving in some people.
  • Antiemetics: You can take antiemetic drugs which control nausea and vomiting like Domperidone which are available as over the counter drugs to control dry heaves.
  • Avoid triggers like unpleasant smells
  • Try acupuncture if it’s available, as it is very effective
  • Eat and drink something cold, as it gives a soothing feeling
  • Try relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga as stress can cause dry heaving
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When to see a doctor for dry heaving:

Although the home remedies of dry heaves are effective, you might need to see a doctor immediately when you have dry heaving. You need to consult a physician if you have the following symptoms along with dry heaving:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath or dyspnea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness in the body
  • Palpitations
  • Decreased urination than previously
  • Having bloody stools or urine
  • Severe myalgia or muscle ache
  • Having rash on the body
  • Having high fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • If there is any head injury
  • If there is dehydration with extreme thirst, dry mouth
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or disorientation

We have discussed all the possible causes of dry heaves, and also the symptoms, home remedies for dry heaves. I hope you people can control dry heaves with our remedies.

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