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There are 155 possible causes of nausea

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What Is Nausea?

Nausea is pronounced stomach discomfort and the sensation of wanting to vomit. Nausea can be a precursor to vomiting the contents of the stomach. The condition has many causes and can often be prevented.

What Causes Nausea?

Nausea can stem from a number of causes. Some people are more sensitive to motion or to certain foods, medications, or the effects of certain medical conditions than others. All these things can cause nausea. Common causes of nausea include:

Heartburn or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

When you eat, stomach contents can come back up your esophagus, creating a burning sensation that causes nausea.

Infection or Virus

Bacteria or viruses can affect the stomach and lead to nausea. Food-borne bacteria can cause an illness known as food poisoning. Viral infections such as the flu can also cause nausea.

Medications

Taking certain medications—for example, cancer treatments like chemotherapy—can upset the stomach or contribute to nausea. Such medications can include cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. Always read the medication information for any new drugs you may be taking to determine methods to minimize medication-related nausea.

Motion Sickness and Seasickness

Motion sickness and seasickness occur due to a vehicle’s movement. This movement can cause the messages transmitted to the brain to not sync up with the senses, leading to nausea, dizziness, and/or vomiting.

Diet

Overeating or eating certain foods (such as spicy or high-fat foods) can upset the stomach and cause nausea. Eating foods you are allergic to can also cause nausea.

Pain

Intense pain can contribute to nausea symptoms. This is true for painful conditions such as pancreatitis, gallbladder stones, and or kidney stones.

Ulcer

Ulcers or sores in the stomach or the lining of the small intestine can contribute to nausea. When you eat, an ulcer can cause a burning sensation and sudden nausea.

Nausea is also a symptom of several other medical conditions, including:

  • benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • ear infection
  • heart attack
  • intestinal blockage
  • liver failure or liver cancer
  • meningitis
  • migraine headaches

When to Seek Medical Help

Seek immediate medical help if your nausea is accompanied by heart attack symptoms such as crushing chest pain, an intense headache, jaw pain, sweating, or pain in your left arm. You should also seek emergency attention if you experience nausea combined with a severe headache, stiff neck, difficulty breathing, and/or confusion. Seek medical help if you suspect that you have ingested a poisonous substance or if you are dehydrated.

If nausea has left you unable to eat or drink for more than 12 hours, see your physician. You should also see your physician if your nausea does not subside within 24 hours after over-the-counter interventions.

This information is a summary. Always seek medical attention if you are concerned you may be experiencing a medical emergency.

How Is Nausea Treated?

Treatment for nausea depends upon the cause. For example, sitting in the front seat of a car may relieve motion sickness. Motion sickness can also be helped with medications, such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), an antihistamine, or by applying a scopolamine patch to relieve seasickness.

Taking medications to address nausea’s underlying cause, such as stomach-acid reducers for GERD or pain-relieving medications for intense headaches, can help as well.

Keeping hydrated can help to minimize dehydration after your nausea subsides. This includes taking small, frequent sips of clear liquids, such as water or an electrolyte-containing beverage.

How Is Nausea Prevented?

Avoiding nausea triggers can help to prevent nausea’s onset. This includes avoiding:

  • flickering lights, which can trigger migraine headaches
  • heat and humidity
  • sea voyages
  • strong odors, such as perfume and cooking smells

Taking an anti-nausea medication (scopolamine) before a journey can also prevent motion sickness.

Changes to your eating habits, such as eating small, frequent meals, can help to reduce nausea symptoms. Avoiding intense physical activity after meals can also minimize nausea. Avoiding spicy, high-fat, or greasy foods can also help. Examples of foods that are less likely to cause nausea include cereal, crackers, toast, gelatin, and broth.

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Possible Causes - Listed in order from the most common to the least.

1

Gastritis

Gastritis is acute or chronic inflammation of the protective lining of the stomach. It's often caused by the bacterium H. pylori, but can also be the result of excessive NSAID, alcohol, or cocaine consumption.

Read more »

2

Pregnancy

Bleeding or spotting, increased need to urinate, tender breasts, fatigue, nausea, and missed period are signs of pregnancy.

Read more »

3

The Many Sides of Bacterial Gastroenteritis

Bacterial infections are common causes of gastrointestinal infections. This type of infection is also called "food poisoning" and is often caused by poor hygiene or ingesting foods contaminated with bacteria.

Read more »

4

Food Poisoning

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Food poisoning occurs when you consume foods contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Symptoms are usually uncomfortable but not severe. Serious reactions can be life threatening and require medical treatment.

Read more »

5

Food Allergy Basics

Food allergies are overblown responses by the immune system to foods that aren't typically harmful - like eggs and peanuts. Continue reading and learn more about food allergies, and how to prevent or treat sever...

Read more »

6

Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is a disorder of the inner ear in which a nerve that detects head movement becomes inflamed. It causes dizziness, nausea, vertigo, and potentially permanent loss of hearing.

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7

Migraine with Aura

Migraine is a disorder characterized by repeated attacks of severe headache. Symptoms include throbbing or pulsating pain, usually on only one side of the head, and can last between four hours and three days.

Read more »

8

Types of Acid Reflux

Acid reflux symptoms are caused when stomach contents flow up from the stomach back into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, stomach pain, and burping.

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9

Menieres Disease

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes vertigo, hearing problems, and a ringing sound. It's thought to be caused by changes in the fluid of the inner ear, and usually only affects one ear.

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10

Head Injury

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

A head injury could be an injury to the brain, skull, or scalp. It can vary in severity depending on the cause. In some cases face swelling can be a sign of a head injury.

Read more »

11

Painful Menstrual Periods

Menstruation is a monthly occurrence for women in which the body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb), which is then passed through a small opening in the cervix and out through the vaginal canal. Some pain, cramping...

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12

Peptic Ulcer

Peptic ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of the stomach, esophagus, and small intestine as a result of erosion from stomach acids. Peptic ulcers are a fairly common health problem, and it is estimated tha...

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13

Concussion

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. It can occur after an impact to your head or after a whiplash-type injury that causes your head and brain to shake quickly back and forth. Concussions are usually not lif...

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14

E. coli Infection

E. coli is a type of bacteria that normally live in the intestines of people and animals. However, some types of E. coli, particularly E. coli 0157:H7, can cause intestinal infection. Symptoms of intestinal infectio...

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15

Angina Pectoris

Angina is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. Lower blood flow means your heart isn't getting enough oxygen. This pain often occurs with physical activity or stress. Stable angina, als...

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16

Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD) is the most serious form of alcohol withdrawal. It causes sudden and severe problems in your brain and nervous system. Approximately five percent of hospital patients being treated fo...

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17

Unstable Angina

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Angina is a condition marked by crushing pain in your chest that may also be felt in your shoulders, neck, and arms. The pain is caused by inadequate blood supply to your heart, which leaves your heart deprived o...

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18

Ischemic Cardiomyopathy

Ischemic cardiomyopathy (IC) is a condition that occurs when the heart muscle is weakened. In this condition, the left ventricle, which is the main heart muscle, is usually enlarged and dilated. This condition can be ...

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19

Salmonella Food Poisoning (Salmonella Enterocolitis)

Salmonella food poisoning is an infection in the small intestine. It is also called salmonella enterocolitis or salmonellosis. It is one of the most common types of food poisoning, and is caused by the bacteria grou...

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20

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Most women (70 to 80 percent) experience morning sickness (nausea) during pregnancy. This condition is generally harmless, and while morning sickness can be quite uncomfortable, it typically subsides within 12 weeks...

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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