Nausea is the feeling of extreme urge to vomit. It is a symptom of the underlying disease and caused by gastric infections, ulcers, chemotherapy, pregnancy, and diet. Diagnosis is done through physical examination, the patient’s medical history, and lab testing. On the basis of severity of symptoms, stages of nausea divided in to mild, moderate and severe.
Nausea can be divided on the basis of cause due to which it is caused. Thus the following are the important types of nausea experienced frequently by the patients:
- GERD-induced nausea: This type of nausea is caused due to the reflux disease. The esophageal is irritated due to the acid reflux and causes a feeling of nausea. Nausea may also be caused due to ulcer and food poisoning in the GIT tract.
- Pregnancy-induced nausea: Nausea is one of the symptoms of a condition found during pregnancy. This condition is known as hyperemesis gravidarum. The condition is caused due to significant changes in the hormonal levels during pregnancy.
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea: Patients receiving chemotherapy ranked nausea as the most severe side effect of therapy. The chemotherapy agents exert this action by affecting the intestine as well as the dorsal vagal complex.
- Diet-induced nausea: Diet rich in spicy food, greasy food and containing high quantity of dairy products may lead to nausea.
- Motion-induced nausea: This type of nausea is caused due to motion, especially in a circular pattern. Some people are more prone to this condition as compared to other people. This type of nausea is more common in people with ear disorders.
Nausea is presented by a variety of disorders. Following are the causes of nausea:
- Pregnancy may cause morning sickness which is characterized by nausea and vomiting.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease and acidity irritates the stomach and esophageal lining causing nausea.
- Chemotherapy medications also cause nausea.
- Food poisoning and GIT infection are also an important cause of nausea.
- Whenever the underlying stomach tissue is exposed to the acid present in the stomach, as in ulcer, it causes a feeling of nausea.
- Diet also plays an important role in the occurrence of nausea. Spicy, greasy foods significantly increase the risk of nausea.
As nausea is itself a symptom, various other condition generally accompanies nausea. Following are the symptoms closely related to nausea:
- Abdominal pain
- Reduced urination
- Dry mouth
- Overall discomfort
Ways to diagnose
Following methods are used to diagnose nausea:
- Physical examination: Through a physical examination, the doctor will try to identify the actual cause. The physical examination includes dehydration and orthostatic hypotension. Other cause may be an increase in intracranial pressure.
- Medical history: During the examination of the medical history, the physician will try to identify whether the condition is acute or chronic. If the condition is acute, the doctor will look for medications, toxins, and diet of the patient to ascertain the cause of nausea. If the patient experiences chronic nausea, the physician will try to identify the causes through a differential diagnosis.
- Lab tests: If the doctor does not arrive at the causative factor through physical examination and medical history, he may advise the lab tests. Testing may include liver function tests, GIT tests, and metabolic disorders.
Risks if neglect
Following are the complications of unmanaged nausea:
- Quality of life: Chronic nausea severely impacts the quality of life. The person with nausea will have a feeling of restlessness and abdominal pain. It also leads to overall discomfort.
- Electrolyte imbalance and malnutrition: Nausea is generally accompanied with vomiting. If there is untreated vomiting, it may lead to severe electrolyte imbalance and malnutrition.
- Underlying disease: Nausea may also be the symptom of some serious underlying diseases such as gastric cancer and increased intracranial pressure. Thus, nausea should not be taken lightly, and immediate attention should be directed to identify the cause of nausea.
The stages of nausea are divided on the basis of the severity of symptoms. Nausea starts from a pre-nausea feeling indicative of something wrong in the body. The next stage is mild nausea characterized by a feeling of nausea in the throat. Moderate nausea is characterized by a severe feeling of restlessness. In severe stage of nausea, the patient experiences dizziness, fainting and extreme urge to vomit.
Foods to eat and avoid
Foods to eat:
- Fresh Juices
- Coconut water
- Chicken sauce
- Iced and herbal tea
- Dry fruits and dry cereals
- English muffins
Foods to avoid:
- Caffeinated drinks
- Food with a strong smell
- Spicy foods
- Dairy products especially people with lactose intolerance
- Carbonated drinks
- Hard to digest food
- Drink sufficient amount of water.
- Distract yourself from the feeling of nausea.
- Stay away from the smell that triggers nausea.
- Eat small and frequent meals rather than large meals.
- Do not at foods that are hard to digest.
- Take precautions when you enter in an environment that disturbs you.
- Take medications as prescribed.
- Warm places may also increase your nausea, so stay away from warm places.
When to see a doctor
Book an appointment with your doctor if:
- You are feeling uncomfortable.
- You experience severe episodes of nausea.
- You have other symptoms such as chest pain along with nausea.
- You have unexplained weight loss along with the feeling of nausea.
- You are experiencing nausea without any external stimulation.
- Your condition does not improve even after adhering to your prescription.
Do’s & Don’ts
- Stay away from any odor.
- Take a walk in the fresh air.
- Distract your mind from the feeling of nausea.
- Take medications as prescribed by the doctor.
- Be well informed about the situations that make you nauseated.
- Take frequent light meals.
- Do not sleep just after taking a meal.
- Do not drink alcohol
- Do not drink carbonated water.
- Do not eat spicy food.
- Do not take large meals.
Risks for specific people
Pregnant women are at higher risk for nausea and vomiting, a condition known as morning sickness. Nausea is also commonly found in the cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Patients with an altered level of minerals in their body have higher chances of experiencing nausea. Patient with ear problems are more sensitive to motion and their chances for getting nausea are high.