Nausea is the uneasy sensation of discomfort in the upper stomach, typically preceding vomiting, but not necessarily so. Nausea can be short-lived and severe or prolonged and mild. A nausea attack is also referred to as a qualm. Nausea is in fact not an illness in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying medical condition. The cause of nausea could be related to the stomach but in many cases it is not. Physical factors or psychological ones may cause nausea making a diagnosis of the condition difficult.
Symptoms of Nausea
The main symptoms of nausea are a feeling of unease along with the urge to vomit. Nausea could be accompanied by symptoms such as stomach pain, anxiety, sweating, dizziness, weakness, dry heaves, and retching.
The feeling of nausea may seem to originate from the stomach, but in fact begins in the brain. As a result, several of the symptoms may be psychological in nature.
If you suffer from nausea and vomiting, speak to your doctor or health care practitioner to get to the root of the problem. In order to reach a diagnosis, your doctor will perform a physical examination and ask a number of questions such as:
- When did the nausea begin? How long did it last?
- Did it begin after eating?
- Did vomiting follow the nausea?
- What other symptoms are you suffering from dizziness? Stomach pain? Diarrhea? Headaches?
- If you have vomited is there any blood or undigested food in your vomit?
- Is your nausea prolonged enough to cause weight loss?
- Are you on any new medications?
- Have you traveled out of the country?
- Are you pregnant?
In addition to these questions, you may be required to undergo tests such as a blood test, a urine test and a stomach x-ray to rule out certain causes of the nausea. The test results and your answers to the questions will give your doctor a clearer picture about the cause of the nausea and how to treat it.
Causes of Nausea
Since nausea is a symptom of an underlying medical condition there are several possible causes of nausea. Some of these include:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Anxiety attack
- Overdose of caffeine
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Concussion and head injury
- Drug abuse
- Food poisoning
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Kidney stones
- Certain medications
- Motion sickness
Remedies for Nausea
Nausea treatment begins with hydration. Drinking plenty of fluids is the first step towards nausea relief as fluids help balance out the electrolyte levels and in turn prevents dehydration and reduce vomiting.
Studies show that ginger is one of the best home remedies for nausea. You can have ginger in form of capsules, ginger tea, or candied ginger. Ginger stimulates digestion and relieves stomach pain as well. Even nibbling on a piece of raw ginger will help alleviate symptoms of nausea caused by motion sickness or after surgery. Drinking ginger ale can help settle your stomach and provide you with the fluids necessary to prevent dehydration. Studies on its effectiveness have been encouraging, with studies finding it effective in both, pregnancy nausea and chemotherapy induced nausea, with no observed risks.
If struck by an attack of nausea, try sipping on peppermint tea. Peppermint oil is an antispasmodic and relaxes the muscles in the stomach and prevents cramping and nausea. Inhaling peppermint oil also works in such cases.
Chamomile tea has a tranquilizing effect on the system and eases stress and anxiety and is an ideal cure for nausea caused due to psychological reasons. Chamomile also aids digestion and reduce spasms in the stomach and cramps that may cause nausea.
Other herbs that can reduce nausea include cinnamon, cloves, and fennel. These can be had in supplement form or made into a tea and sipped on for fast relief. Cinnamon is an antibacterial and antiviral and can help reduce gas and bloating as well as relieve nausea and vomiting. Chewing on a few cloves or drinking a tea made with cloves may help with quick relief of nausea symptoms. Fennel acts as a stimulant to the digestive system and can treat indigestion and colic.
If nausea is due to morning sickness and pregnancy, speak to your doctor about various ways to treat this condition. Eating some dry crackers just before getting out of bed can help, as can eating several small meals spread out over the day. Mix one tablespoon each of honey and apple cider vinegar with cold water and drink this before going to bed to prevent morning sickness. Alternatively you can mix some wheatgerm into a glass of milk and drink this before you sleep as well. Do not try any home remedies for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy without consulting your doctor first.
Ultimately the best way to treat nausea would be to cure the underlying cause. Some cases of nausea may pass with home remedies whereas others may require medical intervention. Get adequate rest and keep yourself hydrated at all times and visit your doctor if the condition gets too unbearable. If you do choose to try alternative therapies such as ayurveda, herbal supplements, aromatherapy or homeopathy to cure your nausea, be warned that these healing methods have not been scientifically proven to work. Keep your doctor informed of any new treatment you are trying out as even home remedies can cause complications when paired with certain medications.
Diet for Nausea
Nausea and vomiting require a short-term change in your diet until you have recuperated completely and the symptoms of nausea have disappeared.
Only small amounts of food are recommended on a diet for nausea. If you can manage to keep down anything, opt for the popular BRAT combination of foods. BRAT is an acronym for Bananas, Rice, Apples, and Toast. These are the best foods to have when you suffer from nausea and vomiting (and diarrhea as well). They are mild enough not to upset the stomach further and bland enough not to put extra pressure on the digestive system. BRAT diet foods are also full of nutrients and fiber necessary to reduce the feeling of nausea and vomiting.
If you suffer from nausea, avoid all foods that are spicy and oily. Junk foods and snacks high in fat and sugar should also be eliminated from your diet. Luckily it wont be difficult to cut out any of these items as you will most likely also suffer from a loss of appetite along with the nausea.
If vomiting is accompanying the nausea, make sure you hydrate properly and drink plenty of liquids. Include juices, water, clear soups, jello, tea without milk, and flat sodas to prevent dehydration. Sucking on a hard candy or ice Popsicle can help relieve the feeling of uneasiness during a nausea attack.
Once the nausea has passed, you can switch slowly back to your regular diet. Introduce cooked fruits, vegetables and eggs into your daily meals and once these are retained, you can move on to meats such as chicken and turkey.
Foods to avoid if you suffer from nausea include:
- Greasy, oily, and spicy foods
- Milk and dairy products
- Raw vegetables like corn, cabbage, onions and beets
- Salmon and sardines
- Pork and veal
- Fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, cherries, berries, and figs
Suggestions for Nausea
If you or anyone you know is suffering from any of the following symptoms along with nausea, contact your doctor or emergency room immediately:
- If you have been vomiting for more than a day with no respite
- If there is no retention of fluids for 8 hours if you are a child or 12 hours in the case of adults
- If there is blood or a coffee-ground like substance in your vomit
- If you have a headache, stomachache or stiff neck
- If you are exhibiting signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, sunken eyes, increase in thirst, and infrequent urination
- If your child has taken aspirin
- If your child is lethargic or unusually irritable
- If the nausea is prolonged and you are not pregnant
- If home remedies are not working
- If there was an head injury
- If there is a fever (especially in the case of children)
- If there is a feeling of confusion and lack of alertness
- If there is a rapid pulse or irregular heartbeat
- If there is difficulty in breathing