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The feeling of nausea can be terrible, but the onset of vomiting is even worse. As a natural defense against poisons and harmful substances, however, it’s no wonder that a person feels better after vomiting. But if you’re throwing up yellow, what does it mean?

This post will talk about some of the reasons your vomit might look bile yellow and if there’s anything you need to do about it.

Explaining Bile: The Reason It’s Yellow

We’ll start by explaining bile, which is a substance the liver produces about half a liter of per day, storing it in the gallbladder for when it’s needed. You can think of it as similar to a strong soap, as it’s alkaline, kills bacteria, and dissolves the fats and fatty acids in your food via a mixture of salts. Without bile salts, most fats in your food would pass through you without the body digesting them.

Bile is greenish-yellow due to bilirubin, which is yellow, and biliverdin, which is green. They both combine to form the color of feces.

Why Am I Throwing Up Bile?

Under normal conditions, bile is secreted into the small intestine and does not enter the stomach. However, when vomiting, the sphincter between the small intestine and stomach relaxes, allowing the contents of the small intestine up into the stomach. The powerful muscles of the gastrointestinal tract sweep up the contents and throw them up as vomit.

But why does this happen?

Why You’re Throwing Up Yellow

Vomiting yellow can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, you might have an empty stomach, and the only content of the vomit is bile; this can happen if you have morning sickness. Other times, it could simply be dehydration. You might not be getting enough fluids, concentrating the color of the bile content in the vomit. Alternatively, it could be due to binge drinking or as a side effect of chemotherapy.

However, it can sometimes be a more serious underlying health issue that is to blame.

Bile reflux, for example, is a condition that is similar to acid reflux but different in that the contents of the reflux are not stomach acid. Therefore, acid reflux treatments do not work for bile reflux, and a qualified gastroenterological specialist must treat it.

An intestinal blockage may not be easily detectible, but it is another more serious reason that you could throw up yellow. It requires immediate medical attention, as the complications could be fatal.

Symptoms of intestinal blockages include:

  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal cramps and pain that come and pass in waves
  • Not being able to pass gas
  • Abdominal swelling


Because intestinal blockages can occur for various reasons, it’s important to have them diagnosed by a qualified specialist. A doctor diagnoses an intestinal blockage using a physical exam, ultrasound, x-rays, or other methods.

At the Gastroenterology Diagnostic Center, we have significant experience in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with our board-certified gastroenterologists, please give us a call at (281) 357-1977. We will be happy to help you enhance your quality of life and show you why we’re the best GI in Tomball.

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