Salivating Before Vomiting

Have you ever felt that awful wave of nausea hit you, followed by a sudden and unwelcome flood of saliva in your mouth?

It’s a truly unpleasant experience, and it can be confusing! We all know saliva helps break down food, so why do you salivate before vomiting when there’s nothing good to taste or digest? This strange urge to salivate before vomiting is a fascinating example of our body’s incredible built-in defenses.

Our bodies are amazing machines, constantly working behind the scenes to keep us healthy. One minute you might be feeling fine, the next you’re doubled over with nausea and that strange urge to salivate before vomiting. It turns out that there is a scientific reason for this, and it has to do with the way our bodies prepare to get rid of whatever is making us sick.

While the experience itself may be unpleasant, understanding the purpose behind salivating before vomiting can offer some peace of mind.

Why do you salivate before vomiting?

Why do you salivate before vomiting

It is all about excessive mouth-watering and nausea. Before we get into why we salivate before vomiting, let’s first understand what vomiting is and then get to details of why you salivate before vomiting.

What is Vomiting or Throwing up, Anyway?

Vomiting, also known as throwing up, is the forceful expulsion of stomach contents through the mouth. It’s a pretty unpleasant experience, but it’s actually a helpful reflex that gets rid of things that can make us sick.

Imagine your stomach as a garbage disposal unit for your body. Sometimes, though, bad things like spoiled food, viruses, or even toxins can sneak in there. Vomiting or throwing up is the body’s way of hitting the emergency eject button and getting rid of those unwanted irritants.

Strong muscles in your abdomen and diaphragm contract, pushing the contents of your stomach back up through your the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach (esophagus) and out.

Ugh, Nausea! What is it?

But before all that heaving and expelling happens, you might experience nausea. Nausea is that yucky feeling in your stomach that makes you feel like you might throw up.

It’s a general feeling of unease and discomfort, and it’s often a signal from your body that something isn’t quite right.

There are lots of things that can trigger nausea, like motion sickness from a long car ride, food poisoning from eating something bad, the stomach flu, or even morning sickness during pregnancy.

Why do we salivate before vomiting?

So, back to that strange saliva flood. Why does our body produce so much spit right before we vomit? Well, it turns out that salivating before vomiting is a clever defense mechanism with two important jobs.

One reason is the autonomic nervous system’s response to the act of vomiting. This system is responsible for involuntary functions like vomiting resulting in nausea. This can cause the salivary glands to produce more saliva when triggered.

Nausea is the feeling of wanting to vomit and is often accompanied by an increase in saliva production. When people feel nauseous, they may start to salivate more because their stomach is preparing to vomit. The production of saliva is a reflex response to the nauseous sensation in the brain. The increase in saliva production causes people to drool.

Another reason for increased saliva production before vomiting is the body’s natural way of protecting the teeth from the acids in vomit.

Saliva helps to neutralize acidity in your mouth by releasing a bicarbonate buffer, which elevates the pH level and restores balance.

All of that stomach acid is toxic and harmful to the rest of our bodies, particularly the esophagus, mouth, and teeth. The increased saliva helps to neutralize some of the stomach acids and can help prevent damage to the esophagus, mouth, and teeth.

Drooling before vomiting can also be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is when the contents of the stomach are pushed back up into the esophagus. The stomach acid in the vomit can irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing it to produce more saliva in an attempt to protect itself.

Finally, some people may simply have a stronger gag reflex than others, which can lead to more saliva production in anticipation of vomiting. Whatever the reason, increased saliva production before vomiting is a normal response and is nothing to be concerned about.


Why do we salivate before vomiting?

While vomiting can be unpleasant, it is also a part of the digestive process. In most cases, vomiting is the body’s way of getting rid of something that is causing it harm. It is a formation of defenses against food poisoning too.

We tend to drool more before vomiting has the underlying benefit of negating the effects of stomach acids. The sudden excessive salivation also helps to lubricate the digestive passage to throw up without damage.

1 Sources:

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  1. Why is the neurobiology of nausea and vomiting so important? by PubMed
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