What Is Significant about Vomit Color?

Eating dark foods like chocolate cake can make vomit look black.
Certain conditions can be suggested by the color of vomit.
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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 08 August 2014
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Emesis, which is also known as vomiting, or throwing up, is a natural occurrence that involves the stomach contents passing through the esophagus, and then out of the mouth. Vomit color can sometimes indicate the presence of certain conditions, though it is always important to check with a doctor when unusual or persistent vomiting occurs. If someone vomits shortly after having eaten a meal, then the color may simply depend on the food that was eaten. Bright red, dark red, and vomit that looks like coffee grounds can all indicate different types of bleeding. A yellow or green vomit color can indicate the presence of bile, especially if it is thin and watery.

There are many different causes for emesis, some of which require immediate medical attention. Not all cases of emesis require a visit to the doctor, though if the vomiting persists, or is especially debilitating, then it is essential to contact a medical professional immediately. It is especially important to seek medical attention for children and infants who are throwing up bile or blood. Medical advice should also be obtained before beginning any type of treatment regimen other than bed rest and hydration.

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If someone throws up due to overeating, drinking too much, or other similar causes, then the color of their vomit will tend to be determined by whatever food they have eaten recently. There is typically no reason to be concerned about this type of emesis, regardless of vomit color, unless it persists or is radically inconsistent with the most recent food that was eaten. Eating or drinking red foods or liquids can result in a red vomit color, and so on for other types of foods and drinks. If the color of the vomit does not correspond to the types of foods that have been eaten, however, then there may be some cause for concern.

Bright red vomit typically indicates that there is some type of active bleeding in the esophagus. This is due to the fact that blood begins to darken quickly when exposed to oxygen. Darker red colors of vomit tend to indicate gastrointestinal bleeding. Minor stomach bleeding will tend to produce dark vomit with the consistency of coffee grounds. More severe bleeding will typically result in large clots of dark blood, which may indicate a perforated stomach ulcer.

A yellow or green vomit color typically indicates the presence of bile, which is a bodily fluid that is produced in the liver. Bile is normally confined to the duodenum, which is the part of the small intestines that is joined to the stomach. Certain conditions can result in bile leaving the duodenum and entering the stomach, after which it may be thrown up. Bile is normally either yellow or green in color, so it can cause vomit to have that type of appearance as well.

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burcinc
Post 3

@feruze-- Yes, that's stomach bile. It basically means that no food was left in your stomach, and the urge to vomit was so strong that you ended up vomiting stomach bile.

When you get to that stage, you need medical assistance and you did the right thing by going to a hospital. Dehydration is a very high risk when you're vomiting severely enough to see bile. They must have put you on an IV drip at the hospital.

bear78
Post 2

I had food poisoning yesterday and had severe vomiting all night. I went to the hospital in the morning for antibiotics and because I was afraid of being dehydrated.

When I first got sick, I was vomiting food, after a while though, the vomit turned into a greenish-yellowish water. Is that bile?

fify
Post 1

I once vomited and saw red things inside the vomit. I freaked out thinking that it's blood, it looked like blood to me, it was bright red.

I called up a nurse and told her about it and she asked me if it looks like coffee grounds. I said no. Then, I remembered that I had eaten tomatoes earlier in the day, so the red things were most likely tomato skin which doesn't get digested very easily

The nurse told me that blood in vomit will look like coffee grounds and usually has a dark red or dark brown color.

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