Nausea symptoms, causes and treatment

Nausea is characterized by the unwanted feeling of as if you’re going to vomit. It’s not a condition but could be a symptom of underlying medical complication. There are a number of complications that can result to nausea. The majority, but not all of them, are due to digestive problems.

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Chronic or persistent nausea lasts more than a month. In this period, nausea might come and go, and might only occur during particular times of the day. However, there are also cases where one tend to feel nauseous at all times. Constant nausea might also worsen over time. On the other hand, acute nausea refers to the nausea that lasts not more than a month. There are episodes where it only persists for several days. Both chronic and acute nausea might result to vomiting, but not all the time.

Causes of Nausea

It’s usually hard to determine the cause of nausea. But, the causes are usually diagnosed by monitoring the underlying symptoms or if anything impacts the severity of nausea. Some of the most popular causes of nausea are:

  • Pregnancy – vomiting and nausea are usually caused by pregnancy. This is typically termed as morning sickness, however it can occur at any time of the day. Hormonal changes are the main cause of nausea during pregnancy.
  • GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux or GERD happens when a ring of muscle that’s the meeting point between your esophagus and stomach tend to relax too much or weaken. When this happens, the contents of your stomach might rise up to your esophagus.
  • Pancreatitis – pancreatitis is a condition distinguished by an inflamed pancreas, the organ that releases enzymes that help break down and digest food. One can suffer from either chronic pancreatitis or acute pancreatitis. The latter lasts for several days, while the former lasts for a number of years.
  • Gastroparesis – gastroparesis refers to the condition that alters the natural movement of the muscles located in your stomach. Typically, powerful stomach contractions push food upward to your digestive tract. When one has gastroparesis, contractions are slowed down, preventing the stomach from emptying itself efficiently. Gastroparesis is prevalent among women.
  • Hepatitis – this is a kind of liver inflammation. There are five major kinds of hepatitis including A, B, C, D, and E and all of them can cause nausea. The most common are Hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis A and Eare often caused by contaminated water or food. On the other hand, Hepatitis B, C, and D are typically caused by exposure to infected bodily fluids, like feces or blood. In cases of hepatitis, especially in hepatitis A, the complication can subside on its own. However, if it doesn’t and remain untreated, hepatitis can lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis.
  • Anxiety disorders – many people suffer from anxiety from time to time, and it’s totally normal to feel a little nauseous during times when you are stressed or nervous and cause difficulty in urination. However, there are episodes of anxiety that are long-lasting and can decrease the quality of one’s life. Even if anxiety disorders are typically recognized to affect emotions, they can also cause certain physical symptoms, including nausea.
  • Peptic ulcer – peptic ulcers are particularized by open sores that lodge in the lining of the small intestine or stomach. Generally, there are two kinds: duodenal ulcers and gastric ulcers. The most common cause of peptic ulcer is an infection with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). It can also be caused by prolonged usage of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or aspiring.
  • Gallbladder disease – the gallbladder is the organ responsible for secreting bile into the small intestine. Naturally, the bile is the digestive liquid that assists in breaking down the fat that comes from the food you consume. Gallbladder disorders range from infection and inflammation to blockage and gallstones. Varying on the severity and cause of the disorder, patients might be advised to have their while gallbladder eliminate.

Other causes of nausea include:

  • Food poisoning
  • Overeating
  • Concussion
  • Some kinds of cancer
  • Ingestion of toxins
  • Extreme levels of pain
  • Migraine
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Ear infection
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Alcoholism
  • Motion sickness
  • Stomach flu
  • Heart attack
  • Brain tumor
  • Bulimia
  • Emotional stress
  • Vestibular neuritis
  • Appendicitis
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Depression
  • Meningitis

Diagnosis and Treatment

Nausea might affect a person due to many different reasons. Doctors diagnose nausea by determining the cause. This is done by examining the patient’s medical history, including the medications used. It is also advised that you tell your doctor the factors that trigger nausea or Anaphylaxis in your body to help diagnoses it faster. 

Besides looking into your history, health experts will also carry out physical tests including pregnancy tests, abdominal examination, neurological examination, blood pressure testing, and many other tests. In case you suffered from any head injury recently, a brain imaging test might be required by the doctor like Computed Tomography Scan (CT Scan). There are also cases that don’t need any physical exams for further diagnosis and use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Given that nausea is caused by a plethora of factors, ranging from common to severe, it is essential that individuals who have it to be very particular in deciding whether or not they should reach out to a doctor or not. In certain situations, nausea can be alleviated using home treatments, provided that it is not developed from an accident, like a hit to the head that might’ve resulted to a concussion. Some home remedies that are effective in relieving nausea include:

  • Acupressure
  • Cool compress
  • Ginger ale or tea
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon

It is also useful to perform a series of stretching movements in case nausea strikes accompanied with back or neck pain and low energy. Nausea typically happens as your body’s way of indicating that there is certain distress in some parts of your body that’s why, performing several stretching exercises might help relieve it.

Dizziness accompanied with nausea typically has a lot to do with circulation. In this cases, it is useful to lie down and rest for certain time period. An ideal position to enhance circulation is sitting against a wall, placing your knees up, and placing your head between your knees. Moreover, it is essential to take note that nausea can sometimes be relieved using simple actions such as getting some fresh air or relaxing yourself.

Furthermore, you can also alleviate feeling of nausea by making significant changes in the way you eat. Since one of the most popular causes of nausea is stomach discomfort, preventing any possibility of having an upset stomach is one way of treating it. A BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet or a diet that is made of foods that are categorized as bland is highly-suggested. 

Medications that are prescribed for nausea are termed as antiemetics. There are forms of these medications that work to prevent vomiting through increasing the movement of the food in the stomach, while others are utilized to block signals from travelling to the vomiting center of the brain. Some of the most common medications for nausea include:

  • Cyclizine
  • Hyoscine
  • Perphenazine
  • Trifluoperazine
  • Metoclopramide
  • Dexamethasone
  • Ondansetron
  • Aprepitant
  • Nabilone
  • Cinnarizine
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Domperidone
  • Granisetron
  • Promethazine
  • Droperidol
  • Prochlorperazine
  • Palonosetron
  • Fosaprepitant

What are the normal conditions?

Nausea is considered as a nonspecific symptom. Most of the time, it is difficult to point out the exact cause of it. Since, it is mainly characterized by an urge to throw up, it is recommended to eat smaller meals all throughout the day.

Make it a point to eat slow and rest right after each meal. There are also circumstances where your doctor will prescribe that you avoid spicy foods or other particular food groups to prevent nausea. If you begin to experience a nauseous feeling, losing vision, sexual performance problems and eat plain crackers before you get up and make an effort to eat high-protein foods, including lean meat, cheese, or nuts, before you retire to bed.

Risk of Having Nausea

The majority of nausea cases clear up after several hours or a few days, without the need to take any medication or see a doctor, unless the patient has an existing severe medical complication or nausea is diagnosed as chronic. If nausea is left untreated, it could lead to vomiting episodes for a few times throughout the year. It could also result to severe complications such as:

  • a tear in the esophagus
  • tooth decay
  • dehydration
  • esophagitis 

It is highly-suggested to consult your doctor right away if you experience feeling of nausea. This way, you will be given proper and effective treatment option. 

When to seek medical attention

In the event that your nausea persists over a month, it is crucial that you consult and go to your doctor. He/she will prescribe the appropriate treatment option for you, even if your nausea is not caused by a severe complication. 

Talk to your doctor if nausea hasn’t persisted but:

  • you experience unintentional weight loss
  • it disrupts with your regular life
  • you experience new symptoms aside from nausea

Look for immediate medical attention if you have nausea accompanied by:

Table of Medications

  • ondansetron
  • Zofran
  • promethazine
  • Phenergan
  • Zofran ODT
  • metoclopramide
  • prochlorperazine
  • Ativan
  • Reglan
  • Antivert