Nausea is a pronounced stomach discomfort and the sensation of wanting to vomit and it can be a precursor to vomiting the contents of the stomach. The condition has many causes and can often be prevented.
It can stem from a number of causes. Some people are highly sensitive to motion or to certain foods, medications, or the effects of certain medical conditions. All these things can cause nausea. Common causes of nausea are described below.
Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Infection or virus
Bacteria or viruses can affect the stomach and lead to nausea. Food-borne bacteria can cause an illness known as food poisoning. Viral infections can also cause nausea.
Taking certain medications — for example, cancer treatments like chemotherapy — can upset the stomach or contribute to nausea. Be sure to carefully read the medication information for any new medications you may be taking. Reading this information and talking to your doctor about treatments you’re receiving can help you minimize medication-related nausea.
Motion sickness and sea sickness
Motion sickness and sea sickness can result from a bumpy ride on a vehicle. This movement can cause the messages transmitted to the brain to not sync up with the senses, leading to feeling of throwing-up, dizziness, or vomiting.
Overeating or eating certain foods, such as spicy or high-fat foods, can upset the stomach and cause nausea. Eating foods you are allergic to can also be a trigger.
Nausea is one of the symptoms that can be used in detecting pregnancy in women of child bearing age who have recently engaged in sexual intercourse. The so-called “morning sickness” includes the woman feeling nauseated in the mornings due to hormonal changes as a result of implantation of the new embryo.
Intense pain can contribute to nausea symptoms. This is true for painful conditions such as pancreatitis, gallbladder stones, and or kidney stones.
Ulcers, or sores in the stomach or the lining of the small intestine, can contribute to nausea. When you eat, an ulcer can cause a burning sensation and sudden nausea.
Nausea is also a symptom of several other medical conditions, including:
- benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- ear infection
- heart attack
- intestinal blockage
- liver failure or liver cancer
- migraine headaches
Treatment of Nausea
Treatment depends on the cause. Sitting in the front seat of a car, for example, may relieve motion sickness. Motion sickness can also be helped with medications such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), an antihistamine, or by applying a scopolamine patch to relieve seasickness.
Taking medications to address the underlying cause can help as well. Examples include stomach-acid reducers for GERD or pain-relieving medications for intense headaches.
Keeping hydrated can help to minimize dehydration after it subsides. This includes taking small, frequent sips of clear liquids, such as water or an electrolyte-containing beverage.
When you begin to reintroduce food, it’s helpful to stick to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) until the stomach is more settled.
Avoiding triggers can help to prevent the onset. This includes avoiding:
- flickering lights, which can trigger migraine headaches
- heat and humidity
- sea voyages
- strong odors, such as perfume and cooking smells
Taking an anti-nausea medication (scopolamine) before a journey can also prevent motion sickness. Changes to your eating habits, such as eating small, frequent meals, can help to reduce symptoms. Avoiding intense physical activity after meals can also minimize nausea. Avoiding spicy, high-fat, or greasy foods can also help. Examples of foods that are less likely to trigger the condition include; cereal, crackers, toast, gelatin, and broth.