Causes of Nausea
There are many reasons for nausea. Fortunately, there are some alternatives to traditional medical treatments available to those who would prefer to avoid medications. Nausea is a feeling of wanting to vomit or being sick to your stomach. Nausea does not always lead to vomiting, as the feeling might just be prevalent and distracting for a long period of time, making normal tasks difficult for the patient for the duration of the nausea.
There are many reasons for feeling nauseated, and they range from mild to serious. A very common cause is food allergies. Food poisoning or “stomach flu” is an infection, or the presence of parasites, viruses, bacterial infections, and other irritating foreign entities in the digestive tract can also cause queasiness. Some people who have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux) have stomach contents that push back up into the esophagus, and this can cause heartburn as well as nausea. Kidney stones, motion sickness, migraines, and the onset of morning sickness during pregnancy are other common causes of this discomfort.
There may be more serious reasons behind nausea
These include cancer, intestinal blockage, poisoning, ulcers, and appendicitis. If the nausea is persistent even when it seemingly would otherwise have worn off or other symptoms are also present, the patient might consider seeking the counsel of a doctor just to be sure of the cause.1
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and general anesthesia can also cause nausea that might be otherwise unrelated to other conditions. Feeling sick may also be triggered by vertigo and the overuse of alcohol or drugs. Over-consumption of any substance, be it alcohol, drugs, or food could all potentially trigger the onset of nausea. There are also several diseases and disorders that can be responsible for nausea. These include anorexia, brain tumor, bulimia, Crohn’s disease, depression, diabetes ketoacidosis, gallstones, anxiety, heart attack, head trauma, strep throat, pancreatitis, and many more. It is very normal for patients to experience nausea even when afflicted by a common cold.2
Treatments for Nausea
The first line of defense for nausea symptoms might be a number of the available at-home remedies, such as a change in diet or medication. If nausea is a symptom of a temporary condition, like strep throat or a cold, dietary changes might be just as temporary for the duration of the condition. Lying down might be beneficial. Patients need to make sure they stay hydrated with clear liquids (small amounts, taken frequently). Dehydration, especially on a hot day or when the patient is engaged in physical activities, can occur more quickly and keeping regularly hydrated in smaller amounts rather than trying to drink too much liquid at once is important.
Some antihistamines and motion sickness medications (i.e. Dramamine, Scopolamine) may be useful as well. Motion sickness is nausea that is caused by riding a roller coaster, flying in an airplane, driving in a car, riding in a boat, or performing similar actions where the motion is stronger or more aggressive.3 Pepto-Bismol, Mylanta, Maalox, and other over-the-counter medications can ease queasiness.
Acupressure, a method of pressing the thumb to the wrist for 30 seconds, is another self-care option that some patients find works for them. Patients should avoid strong smells and hot rooms. Having a fan blowing onto the face, getting fresh air, napping, relaxing, and bathing can also provide relief. Some people may find that eating unseasoned crackers, ginger ale, or the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) diet helpful. This is why people riding on airplanes often order ginger ale and why those who are sick prefer a blander, gentler diet.4
When to Seek Professional Help
The condition may require emergency medical care if:
- the queasiness leads to frequent vomiting,
- poisoning is suspected,
- the vomit consists of a darker, coffee-colored material or blood,
- it is accompanied by a stiff neck or headache,
- there is severe stomach pain,
- there is no urination for eight or more hours,
- other signs of dehydration occur.
Doctors will run necessary blood tests and urinalysis, and they may X-ray the abdomen. Though many cases of nausea are easily explained by the patient’s environment or physical health, keeping track of symptoms is still important just in case something more serious is at play.5 If there is an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to dispose of the bacteria. Alternative care options for some kinds of nausea include acupressure, as noted above, as well as naturopathic medicine, aromatherapy, bodywork, such as reflexology, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, meditation, and traditional Chinese medicine. Many of these are home remedies that patients might try to ease their nausea when it is only a symptom of a minor condition. When the presence of something more serious has become evident, professional medical assistance should be sought.6 Research has shown that acupuncture can also be helpful in relieving nausea.7
1, 3, 5 nlm.nih.gov
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