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Nausea - Causes, Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment

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Nausea is a feeling of an urge to vomit. Read this article to learn more about nausea.

Written by

Dr. P. Saranya

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Jagdish Singh

Published At October 27, 2022
Reviewed AtJanuary 8, 2024

Introduction:

Nausea is the discomfort of the stomach with a sensation of the urge to vomit. Nausea can be followed by vomiting. Vomiting is the voluntary or involuntary emptying of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. There will be a buildup of saliva in the mouth in nausea. Nausea affects both children and adults.

What Are the Causes of Nausea?

A variety of reasons cause nausea. Nausea is not a disease but a symptom of certain conditions. Some people are more sensitive to travel, certain foods, and medications that cause nausea. Some common causes of nausea include:

  • Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease: This is a condition in which the stomach’s acid flows back into the esophagus. This causes heartburn and nausea.

  • Infections: Bacterial or viral infections affecting the stomach result in nausea.

  • Medications: Certain medications like antibiotics and over-the-counter painkillers can cause nausea. Read the information on medicines or discuss nausea with the doctor before taking any new treatment or medicine.

  • Motion Sickness and Seasickness: Some people are more sensitive to travel, and they experience nausea, dizziness, and vomiting during travel.

  • Benign Positional Vertigo: Changes in posture and slight movements of the head can trigger nausea.

  • Diet: Overeating or eating foods that can cause allergies can cause nausea. Spicy or high-fat foods can cause stomach upset and nausea.

  • Pain: Pain in conditions like gallstones (hardened bile deposits in the gallbladder), kidney stones (calcified stone deposits in the kidney), and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) can cause nausea.

  • Ulcer: Ulcers of the stomach or the lining of the small intestine can cause a burning sensation and nausea.

  • Migraine: Some smells or odors triggering migraine can also cause nausea.

  • Gastritis: Infection caused by Helicobacter pylori can cause nausea.

  • Gastroparesis: In this condition, stomach emptying usually occurs slower, which causes nausea.

  • Ear Infection: An inner ear infection can cause dizziness and nausea.

  • Thyroid Disorders: Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism can cause nausea.

  • Gynecologic Conditions: Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation and excess bleeding) can cause nausea.

  • Low Blood Sugar: A decrease in blood sugar levels can cause nausea.

  • Alcohol: Excess alcohol consumption and alcohol withdrawal can cause nausea.

  • Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver can cause nausea.

  • Anesthesia: Some people feel nausea after waking up from anesthesia.

  • Early Stages of Pregnancy: Women in their first-trimester experience nausea and vomiting. Nausea occurs in almost 50 to 90 percent of pregnancies.

  • Emotional Stress: Anxiety, stress, and fear can cause nausea.

  • Heart Attack: Nausea is one of the symptoms of a heart attack.

  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy (cancer therapy by emitting radiation to the targeted organ) can result in nausea.

  • Chemotherapy: Acute and delayed nausea can result from chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs that destroy rapidly growing cancer cells) drugs.

  • Food Poisoning: Gastrointestinal infections caused by food poisoning can cause nausea.

What Is the Duration of Nausea?

The duration of nausea depends on the cause. Nausea usually resolves in a few hours or a day. Nausea and vomiting caused by stomach flu resolve in 24 hours, whereas nausea and vomiting from food poisoning take about 48 hours.

How Is Nausea Diagnosed?

  • Physical examination and medical history about symptoms can diagnose nausea.

  • If vomiting is present, look for signs of dehydration.

  • Other tests include blood tests, ultrasound, liver function tests, radiography, and endoscopy to rule out the underlying conditions.

  • A pregnancy test is taken if nausea is present in women of ng age.

How Can We Prevent Nausea?

Avoiding the factors that trigger nausea can prevent nausea onset. Those include:

  • Avoid lights that induce migraine.

  • Avoid strong perfumes and odors.

  • Avoid foods that are difficult to digest.

  • Rest after eating and keep the head elevated about 12 inches high above the feet.

  • Avoid drinking more water during meals.

  • Avoid sea travel.

  • Taking anti-nausea medication Scopolamine can prevent nausea during travel.

  • Eating small, frequent meals can reduce nausea.

  • Drink more water to prevent dehydration.

How Can We Treat Nausea?

Treatment for nausea depends on the cause. Some simple measures include:

  • Too much activity and not getting enough rest can worsen nausea. So take adequate rest.

  • Get some fresh air.

  • Eat light, bland foods.

  • Drink clear or ice-cold drinks.

  • Avoid spicy, fried, or sweet foods.

  • Drink beverages slowly.

  • Eat slowly and eat small, frequent meals.

  • Avoid physical activity immediately after eating.

  • Do not mix hot and cold foods.

  • Avoid brushing teeth after eating.

  • If pregnant and have morning sickness, try eating crackers before getting out of bed.

  • Eat a high-protein diet before bed.

  • In motion sickness, over-the-counter medications such as Dramamine and Meclizine are helpful.

  • Placing a cold compress on the back of the neck can relieve nausea.

  • Meditation or taking deep breaths can reduce nausea.

  • Drinking water mixed with lemon juice can reduce nausea.

  • To reduce nausea, eat a piece of ginger or drink ginger tea.

  • Peppermint oil can reduce nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

  • Medications used to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting are called antiemetics. The most commonly used antiemetics are Promethazine, Metoclopramide, and Ondansetron.

  • Acupressure for Nausea: Stimulating an acupressure point called P6 with fingers can relieve nausea. Using the middle and index fingers, press firmly on the inside of the wrist on the groove between the two large tendons.

How to Stop Vomiting When Feeling Nauseated?

Once feel nauseated, can prevent vomiting by:

  • Drinking a small amount of clear, sweetened liquids (soda or fruit juices except orange and grape juices).

  • Activity can worsen nausea and cause vomiting. So resting while sitting or lying can prevent vomiting.

  • Avoid alcohol.

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee or tea.

  • To prevent motion sickness, sit facing the front windshield because watching fast movements outside the windows can worsen nausea. Reading or using a mobile phone in a car can also cause motion sickness.

  • Eating and playing at the same time can cause nausea in children.

  • Vitamin B6 is highly recommended for pregnant women who do not like to take nausea medication.

What Could Be the Home Remedies That Treats Nausea?

  • Ginger: One well-known benefit of ginger is that it prevents nausea. Ginger tea, ginger candies, and ginger tea are all options. Fresh ginger slices should be steeped in hot water for ten to fifteen minutes to make ginger tea.

  • Mint pepper: Peppermint can help soothe an upset stomach. can try peppermint tea or peppermint oil capsules (consult a healthcare professional before using the oil). Smelling peppermint oil may also be beneficial.

  • Stay Hydrated: To stay hydrated, drink clear liquids such as water, herbal tea, or electrolyte-rich beverages.

  • BRAT Diet: Remain with simple, easily digested foods like toast, applesauce, rice, and bananas.

  • Lemon: The scent of lemon may help alleviate nausea. can sniff a freshly cut lemon or try sipping on lemon water.

These remedies are not a substitute for professional medical advice, especially if the nausea is persistent or severe.

Conclusion:

Nausea is not a severe symptom. A common symptom, nausea, can be brought on by several conditions, such as digestive problems, infections, motion sickness, pregnancy, or specific medical treatments. While simple home remedies like acupressure, ginger, peppermint, and staying hydrated can often help manage mild cases of nausea, persistent or severe nausea may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs to be treated by a professional. Mostly, nausea is temporary. Nausea is a very uncomfortable sensation. Certain home remedies and over-the-counter medications can reduce nausea, but sometimes, it may lead to vomiting. However, most people recover within a few hours or a day.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Can You Have Nausea Without Any Reason?

Nausea is not a disease but can be a symptom of any underlying disease. Nausea could be a symptom of any underlying gastric disorder such as GERD (Gastroesophageal reflex disorder) or peptic ulcer. Nausea could also be caused due to psychological conditions such as stress and anxiety. It could also be caused as a side effect of various medications. Hence nausea could be the outcome of various underlying conditions.

2.

What Is the Meaning of Nausea and Vomiting?

Nausea and vomiting are various medical conditions that can be explained as follows:
- Vomiting: Vomiting is the forceful throwing up of the stomach's contents through the mouth. This could be voluntary or involuntary. 
- Nausea: Nausea is an unpleasant feeling that comes with a vomiting sensation. It may or may not lead to vomiting

3.

What Can Be a Quick Relief to Nausea?

The following can give quick relief to nausea: 
- Sipping cold water.
- Eating non-oily and bland food items.
- Taking small amounts of food at a time.
- Getting good amounts of fresh air. 
- Sipping ginger or peppermint tea.

4.

What Food Items Can Be Consumed at the Time of Nausea?

It is important to avoid spicy and oily foods while experiencing nausea. Consuming non-greasy and bland food items can prevent aggravation at the same time, give relief to nausea. Such food items may include:
- Fruits such as apples and bananas.
- Potatoes.
- Baked items can absorb the acid content and reduce nausea.
- Nuts. 
- Mint and ginger-infused water.

5.

How Long Can an Episode of Nausea Last?

The duration of nausea depends on the cause of the condition. If the nausea is caused due to stomach infections or indigestion, it can go away within one or two days at the maximum. Certain other conditions, such as pregnancy or medication, can cause longer bouts of nausea. If nausea occurs due to unidentified causes, it is better to obtain a medical opinion.

6.

When Should a Person Worry About Nausea?

A person should worry about nausea in any of the following circumstances:
- Prolonged nausea that occurs for more than a week.
- Weight loss is associated with nausea and vomiting.
- Pain in the abdomen or chest.
- The blurring of vision.
- Fever, headache, and stiff neck. 
- Foul odor from the mouth. 
- Bleeding from the rectum.

7.

Can Forceful Vomiting Relieve Nausea?

Yes, forceful vomiting can relieve nausea in some cases. If nausea is caused due to food poisoning or indigestion, forceful vomiting in these cases can give relief to nausea. In some cases, nausea and vomiting may even worsen the existing issues.

8.

Can Nausea Be a Symptom of Dehydration?

Yes, nausea can be a symptom of dehydration. The various symptoms of dehydration can include dizziness, confusion, nausea, and vomiting. This may be termed dehydration if the body cannot receive sufficient fluids. If dehydration is accompanied by nausea and vomiting, it can worsen the condition. Hence it is advisable to obtain medical attention as early as possible.

9.

Does Nausea Require Emergency Treatment?

Generally, nausea does not require emergency treatment. Most often, nausea is a symptom of minor offsets of the digestive symptom. However, if nausea is accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain, stiff neck, blurred vision, and severe abdominal cramps, it is advisable to obtain a medical opinion at the earliest.

10.

Can Carbonated Drinks Provide Quick Relief From Nausea?

Yes, carbonated beverages can provide relief from nausea in some cases. The bicarbonate in these drinks can help with acidity and relieve nausea. However, the sugar levels are generally too high in these drinks. Hence, a carbonated beverage with lesser sugar levels would be advisable.

11.

Is Feeling Nauseous Everyday Okay?

Nausea is not a disease by itself. It is a symptom of other underlying conditions. Hence if a person experiences nausea everday, it may signify other underlying conditions such as peptic ulcer and chronic digestive issues. It may also suggest psychological issues, such as anxiety and chronic stress. Hence it is better to consult a physician if a person experiences nausea everyday.
Dr. Jagdish Singh
Dr. Jagdish Singh

Medical Gastroenterology

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