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I stepped on a nail. It wasn't rusty, but when I got back to the house I almost lost my lunch. Why did my body do that?
- Max*

Our bodies sometimes react to upsetting things in surprising ways. Emotions like fright, pain, anxiety, or shock can affect the body's nervous system and make someone feel like throwing up.

It's perfectly normal to feel sick after an accident or injury — even if you're not hurt or upset. Often you will feel sick immediately after an incident. But sometimes a little bit of time might pass before the nausea hits.

If you feel nauseated after an injury or after something upsetting happens, sit down. Breathe slowly in and out, deep into your belly. This can calm you down and help the nausea improve. If you start feeling dizzy, there's a chance you may faint. So keep sitting or lie down and ask a friend to get you some water.

Sometimes, throwing up is about more than being shocked or in pain. It can be a sign of a serious injury. If you throw up after hitting your head or taking a blow to your belly, call a doctor right away.

Stepping on a nail is something that needs medical attention. Even if the nail isn't rusty, you can get tetanus or other infections. So call your doctor.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: August 2011

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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Related Resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.