Vomiting isn’t a disease or a condition itself, rather a symptom of an underlying health condition or a sign that often accompanies a variety of health woes which may be mild, moderate or even severe.
Woman vomiting

What Is Vomiting?

Vomiting, also referred to as throwing up is a protective reflex that pushes the food from the stomach and bowels out through the mouth. It usually helps the body to get rid of viruses, bacteria, or parasites that might be present in the digestive system.

In vomit, the food particles that one eats may be partly or fully digested. They get mixed with the digestive fluids or other elements like the blood which can influence the colour of the vomit. In case there is an infection in the stomach due to a bug, the effect of the germ on the stomach/bowel contents may affect the colour of the vomit too.

Also Read: Nausea/ Vomiting: Hold On To These Ayurvedic Remedies To Tackle This Queasy Sensation

Many a time, the colour of the vomit changes as the body progresses through each stage of the underlying health condition or an infection. For example, in case one is suffering from stomach flu, the colour of the vomit usually starts as green or yellow then gradually progresses to orange.

If the vomiting lasts for a few hours or one or two days, it usually isn’t considered serious. It might just be the body’s reaction to the infection or irritation in the stomach or a way of the body to get rid of harmful things from the stomach. If the vomiting occurs in short bouts, it might indicate food poisoning or indigestion but if it continues to happen in a cyclic pattern for several weeks or even months, do get checked as it might be an underlying symptom of a chronic health condition.

Most of the time the appearance of the vomit usually reflects the remnants of a recent meal or feed. But if the vomit is of a separate colour, then it might suggest one problem or another. Let this 2-minute read uncover what the colour of your vomit might indicate.

The Different Colours Of Vomit And Their Underlying Health Concern

Green

If the colour of the vomit is green, it usually indicates the presence of bile in the vomit, if not you have just eaten some green-coloured food. Bile is the special digestive liquid that is formed in the gall bladder which chiefly helps the body to metabolise fat. The green-coloured vomit usually suggests that the stomach is empty of food (as if the food is mixed with bile, it would alter the colour of the vomit). People with morning sickness for example can also wake up with an empty stomach and vomit. In some instances, it  also means a blockage in the bowel that requires urgent medical intervention. If this green vomit lasts for more than a few days, or is accompanied by severe pain, fever, weakness, constipation, or any other concerning symptoms, you should immediately inform the doctor and get checked out right away.

Also Read: Bile Reflux: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Yellow

If the vomit is of yellowish tinge, it usually indicates a mix of partially digested food mixed in with the other digestive juices. Sometimes, it may also indicate Gastroenteritis from food poisoning.

Clear, Colourless

If the appearance of the vomit is clear or colourless, it usually indicates that the person has already thrown up several times, effectively emptying the stomach of its food contents. This chiefly results from conditions like stomach flu, morning sickness, migraine, cyclic vomiting disorder, or even food poisoning. In such cases, it is usually followed up by green vomiting, suggesting presence of bile. However, in some cases, clear vomit may happen after a head injury or due to gastric outlet obstruction which needs a proper doctor check-up.

Orange

Vomit of an orange hue may also occur in food poisoning after consuming contaminated foods.  It can also indicate Migraines, gastroenteritis or stomach flu, influenza, morning sickness due to pregnancy, motion sickness, appendicitis, inner ear infections, certain medications or even an ongoing chemotherapy.

Red/ Pink

Red or pinkish vomit usually indicates presence of blood which could mean several things. Vomiting large amounts of blood is also called hematemesis and is a concerning sign that requires medical intervention.

In case of children, bloody vomit may be a sign of dietary intolerance to milk, certain blood clotting disorders, birth defects or if the child has swallowed blood from injury to the mouth.

In case of adults, blood in the vomit could indicate injury to the small blood vessels of the gullet (food pipe) or stomach due to coughing or forceful vomiting, peptic ulcer, amloidosis, liver, injury to the mouth or gums or Mallory-Weiss tear (tear in the oesophagus).

Brown

Vomit with brown stains or completely brown vomitus may indicate bleeding from the stomach/bowel that’s not recent. It can also mean blocked intestine, damage to the throat, mouth or gums, injury to the mouth or throat from frequent vomiting, peptic ulcer, severe constipation or even stomach cancer

Black

Vomit of black shade usually indicates that there has been some bleeding from a part of the bowel or stomach. The blood might have turned black having mixed with acid in the stomach before throwing up. This is quite a severe sign of concern and needs to be diagnosed immediately. Sometimes, the vomit is described as coffee grounds or sometimes it could be very sticky and black if a very big amount of bleeding has happened. This is also another reason for an emergency hospital assessment.

Changes in the colours of the vomit are only a small symptom for the underlying health conditions one might be suffering from, however, they must not be ignored. In case you observe any of the above-mentioned changes in your vomitus, do consult a doctor about it at the earliest to get it diagnosed.