Oct 31, 2016

What is Nausea?


What is Nausea? It is an uneasy sensation in the upper abdomen. It may or may not be accompanied by the urge to vomit. Nausea can be a side effect, associated with several medications or it can be a symptom of a disease or disorder. Fatty or Sugary meals may also lead to Nausea. Almost everyone had experienced Nausea at some point of time; it is one of the most common problems in medicine.

There are various reasons that can cause Nausea; they can be not very particularly serious like in the case of the ‘Motion Sickness’. Nausea can also occur during the early months of pregnancy and is known as ‘Morning Sickness’.

Nausea, when accompanied by vomiting:-

  • A feeling of discomfort in the stomach which is accompanied by the urge to vomit.
  • Stress in the stomach that causes an urge to vomit.
  • The upset stomach makes you think that you are going to vomit.
  • A warm Bloating feeling in the stomach that makes you think that you’re going to vomit.
  • Stomach fullness
  • Expel out the contents of the stomach through mouth because of the result of involuntary spasms of the stomach muscles.
  • To throw up

What are the Causes of Nausea?

After understanding what is Nausea, let’s observe common causes of Nausea. Some of these are as follows:-

  • Overeating
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Prescribed and non-prescribed medications.
  • Poisoning by Food
  • Infections caused by Virus
  • Early phase of pregnancy
  • Seasickness or Carsickness
  • Chemical toxins
  • Disease of Gallbladder
  • Acute pain
  • Migraine
  • Bad smell
  • Anxiety and Stress

Some possible serious causes of Nausea are:

  • Appendicitis
  • Concussion
  • Meningitis or encephalitis
  • Brain Tumour
  • Intestinal blockage

Nausea brings a feeling of discomfort, but it is not very painful. It is associated with food distaste and urge to vomit. When human body start preparing to vomit, it follows the following sequence.

  • The muscular ring between the oesophagus and stomach (oesophagal sphincter) relaxes.
  • The abdominal muscles and diaphragm contract.
  • The windpipe (larynx) closes.
  • The lower portion of the stomach contracts.

What Happens during Nausea?

When a person experiences nausea and vomits, the food and other fluids come out of the body through the oesophagus and mouth. Retching is also experienced when a person has Nausea. Retching is recurrent rhythmic contraction of respiratory and abdominal muscles that occur without control. It may or may not lead to vomiting.

Nausea differs with age. What is nausea in children is very different from what an adult experiences. In children, it is expected when they are suffering from a Viral Infection, Food Poisoning, Motion Sickness, Overeating, Coughing and other Illness. Timing on Nausea may indicate the cause of the disease. For e.g. when Nausea occurs very shortly after a meal, it may be caused due to Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining).  If Nausea remains between one to eight hours after a meal, it may indicate Food Poisoning.

Nausea, when accompanied by vomiting, is often not harmful. But it can be a sign of more serious illness which includes Concussions, Meningitis (infection of the membrane linings of the brain), Blockage in Intestine, Appendicitis, and Brain Tumour.

In addition to this women experience nausea during pregnancy. Repeated Vomiting in Pregnancy may lead to a serious condition like ‘Hyperemesis Gravidarum’. In this condition, a mother may develop fluid and other mineral imbalances that can endanger the life of the baby or her own life.

Nausea is a very common side effect of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy as well. Not everyone experiences Nausea as a side effect though. In most of the cases, the side effects can be controlled by medications.

People suffering from Anxiety and Stress are most likely to suffer from Nausea. What is the level of Nausea? It can vary from slight, moderate to severe level. However, Nausea caused by stress and anxiety should not be considered a serious problem.

People suffering from the Panic attacks tend to believe that they are suffering from major health problems, while they are not suffering from any of the major health problems. Nausea is the most common symptom among the people who are suffering from this disorder.

Furthermore, patients who undergo a surgery are most likely to suffer from Nausea, depending upon the type and duration of the surgery. People who have previously suffered from Post- Operative Nausea and Travel Sickness are most likely to experience it.

Heat exhaustion is heat related illness; it is caused when exposed to high temperature. Nausea is a major symptom of Heat Exhaustion and is accompanied with vomiting and dizziness. Nausea is caused when there is salt depletion present in the body.

Indigestion is caused by eating meals that are high in Fat content. Nausea is a major symptom of Nausea of indigestion. Fat is more difficult to digest as compared to other nutrients. When you consume a large amount of fat at one time, the digestive system slows down. It causes a condition which is known as Gastroparesis or delayed gastric emptying. When undigested food remains in the stomach longer than usual, it creates a condition of Nausea.

Nausea caused by Hunger is a most well-known symptom. It may be associated with stomach rumbling and growling. These hunger problems may arise from after 12 to 24 hours after a meal.

From time to time women suffer from painful Menstrual Cramps. The range of cramp can suffer from mild to severe level. It involves pain in the belly. A woman can also suffer from Nausea.

The cause of the Nausea determines how long it will last and how often it will occur. The cause can vary, it can be caused due to Spoiled food, Motion sickness or may be due to Viral illness.

Nausea generally lasts for a short period and is not reasons for any serious concern. In most of the cases, the feeling of nausea generally does not last from minutes to few hours, it usually goes away on its own within 24 hours.

What can Prevent Nausea?

As a solution to what can prevent nausea, the following may be observed:-

  • Avoid food, which is not easily digestible.
  • If you don’t like the smell of the hot food and it makes you feel ill, try the cold food or cold meals.
  • Eat small meals instead of big meals.
  • Do not lie down just after eating food. Put your head higher than your feet.
  • Drink at least six glasses of water per day.
  • When you wake up in the morning and if you feel nauseated, eat cheese or just crackers before going to bed or eat a few before getting up.

What are some tips to prevent Nausea?

If you’re already feeling nauseated, these tips will prevent from vomiting.

  • Sit down, don’t move. Physical activity will make nausea worse.
  • Drink a small amount of beverage such as Ginger Ale or Gatorade. They will calm down the stomach.
  • Refrain from using medications that may upset your stomach, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and blood thinners.
  • Drink oral rehydrating solution to replace lost electrolytes.

Some over-the-counter medications can help to relieve nausea, includes:

  • Chewable or liquid antacids, a solution of glucose, fructose and phosphoric acid (Emetrol) will help in neutralising stomach acid.
  • Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or Meclizine Hydrochloride (Bonine, Dramamine II) are helpful for preventing motion sickness.

When to Seek Medical Help

Seek for the emergency medical help, if you’ve following symptoms:

Under 6 Years Old

  • has both Diarrhea and vomiting
  • has projectile vomiting
  • is showing symptoms of wrinkled dehydrated skin, irritability, a weak pulse, or decreased consciousness.
  • has been vomiting for two or three hours
  • has 100 degrees F fever or above
  • has not urinated in more than six hours

Over 6 Years Old:

  • vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • symptoms of dehydration
  • child has not urinated for more than six hours
  • child appears confused or lethargic
  • the child has a fever higher than 102°F


Seek emergency medical help, if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • severe headache
  • stiffness in neck
  • lethargy
  • confusion
  • the presence of blood in the vomit
  • a rapid pulse
  • rapid breathing
  • fever of more than 102°F
  • reduced responsiveness
  • acute or repeated abdominal pain

Immediate actions are to be taken if any of the following situations are present along with vomiting.

  • There is blood in the vomit.
  • A severe headache or stiff neck
  • Lethargy, confusion, or a decreased alertness
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing or pulse

How to Diagnosis Nausea?

Nausea may occur due to various reasons; a doctor will try to find the cause of Nausea by looking into the medical history, which includes the usage of the medications. It will be helpful for the doctor if you tell him the source that triggers Nausea in your body.

Doctor will perform a physical examination; it may include blood pressure testing, abdominal examination, pregnancy test, neurological examination and other tests. If you had any recent head injury, a brain imaging test may be required such as Computed Tomography Scan (CT Scan). Sometimes no physical testing is required for further diagnosis.

What are effective Treatments against Nausea?

The answer to what are effective ways to treat Nausea involves taking the right medications at the right time, i.e. when the cause of the disease is being diagnosed. These symptoms resolve when the underlying cause of illness is diagnosed and treated.

If any warning signs have been identified, initial treatment includes fluid assessment and electrolyte status with an appropriate replacement. A low -fat diet or liquid diet may be prescribed by the doctor.

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