Why it happens
Nausea is that awful, queasy feeling you get in your stomach that makes you feel like you’re going to vomit. It may be triggered by a virus, a digestive condition, pregnancy, or even an unpleasant odor.
Many times, it’s unclear why nausea strikes. Whatever the reason — when it hits, you’ll do almost anything to make it go away.
Here’s a list of 16 ways to get rid of nausea. The list starts with basic remedies to provide fast relief, then moves to those that may take longer to work. Many nausea remedies don’t necessarily cure the condition, but they may help you feel more comfortable.
1. Sit up and avoid crunching the stomach
If your mom ever told you not to lie down after eating, she was on to something. When you lie flat, gastric juices may rise and increase feelings of nausea and overall discomfort, especially if you have acid reflux or GERD.
Crunching your stomach may also worsen nausea since it compresses the area and makes you less comfortable in general. When you’re nauseous, try reclining with your upper body elevated, and move around as little as possible.
2. Open a window or sit in front of a fan
There’s a reason you see carsick people with their heads practically hanging out of the car window. Fresh air eases nausea symptoms in many people, although it’s not clear why. It may get rid of sickening odors, or simply help you focus on something other than the nausea.
Try sitting in front of a fan or window at the first sign of nausea, especially if you’re overheated.
3. Apply a cool compress
A soothing, cool compress placed on the back of the neck may help ease nausea. When nausea occurs, your body temperature may increase.
Placing a cool compress on the back of your neck for several minutes can be soothing. It also helps decrease your body temperature which, if high, may cause nausea.
4. Apply pressure
Acupressure is an alternative medicine therapy that applies pressure to specific areas on the body to ease symptoms. The pressure point for nausea is on your inner wrist, about two and a half inches down, in between two large tendons. To ease nausea, press on this pressure point in a circular motion for a few minutes.
5. Meditate or take deep breaths
Deep breathing is a meditation technique. But you can also do it on your own to quell stress-related nausea. Breathe in slowly through your nose, hold your breath for three seconds, and slowly breathe out. Repeat several times until nausea subsides.
6. Shift your focus
Sometimes, curing nausea is simply mind over matter. The more you dwell on your nausea, the more nauseous you’re likely to feel.
The next time nausea attacks, distract yourself by reading a book or watching television. If motion doesn’t make you feel worse, do some light housework or play a game with your kids — anything to get your mind off how you feel.
If you’re at work, take several deep breaths, and attack that pile of paperwork on your desk you’ve been ignoring for days. But most of all, don’t be a martyr at work if your nausea persists. You may have the dreaded, highly contagious “stomach bug.”
7. Stay hydrated
When you feel queasy, sip fluids throughout the day. If straight water turns your stomach, try drinking decaf tea, or water with fresh fruit slices.
8. Opt for chamomile tea
Chamomile tea bags are available at most grocery stores and natural health stores. Make your own chamomile tea by pouring one cup boiling water over a tablespoon of dried or fresh chamomile flowers. Steep for at least five minutes, and strain.
9. Turn to lemons
If nausea is due to constipation, drinking warm water with lemon juice may stimulate your bowels. Go easy, though. Ingesting too much lemon juice in a brief period may make nausea worse.
The scent of lemons may also ease nausea. According to a 2014 study, inhaling lemon essential oil can help reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women. If you don’t have lemon essential oil on hand, simply cut a fresh lemon in half and breathe the scent in.
10. Go with ginger
To help nausea, eat a small piece of fresh or candied ginger. You can also drink ginger tea, which you’ll find in grocery and natural health stores.
Make your own ginger tea by pouring one cup boiling water over a one-inch piece of peeled, fresh, ginger root. Steep for at least five minutes, strain if you want, and enjoy.
11. Pair with peppermint
According to a 2013 study, peppermint oil was found to be a safe and effective way to combat nausea due to chemotherapy treatment. You can take peppermint capsules, or drink peppermint tea to experience these benefits.
Look for peppermint tea at most grocery and natural health stores. Or make your own by pouring one cup boiling water over a heaping teaspoon of fresh peppermint leaves. Steep for at least five minutes, and strain to preference.
Inhaling peppermint essential oil or fresh peppermint leaves may also ease nausea after anesthesia, according to a 2011 study.
12. Avoid carbonated beverages
There’s an old wives’ tale that drinking carbonated beverages such as ginger ale or cola helps tame tummy troubles. The opposite is often true.
Carbonated drinks may cause bloating and worsen acid reflux and GERD, all of which may cause nausea. In addition, most fizzy beverages are loaded with sugar, which may also make you queasier.
If you must drink a fizzy drink, let it go flat or dilute it with water before drinking.
13. Eat a small meal of something bland
Following a bland diet may help nausea from worsening or prevent you from vomiting. The most common recommended diet for recovering from nausea is the BRAT diet — bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
You can also eat small amounts of:
- plain pasta or noodles
- plain baked or mashed potatoes
- scrambled eggs
- hard-boiled eggs
Avoid fried foods, dairy products like cheese and milk, meat, and foods high in fiber until nausea subsides.
14. Take over-the-counter (OTC) medications
Nausea medications are called antiemetics. When nausea is severe, you may need an OTC medication to help calm and soothe the stomach.
Some options are:
If you’re pregnant, don’t take any OTC medications without consulting your doctor first.
15. Take vitamin B-6 supplements
Vitamin B-6 on its own has had mixed results for treating nausea. The typical dose is between 30 to 100 milligrams daily, in 1 to 3 divided doses for up to 3 weeks.
Too much vitamin B-6 may worsen nausea, however. It may also cause serious side effects, such as:
- abnormal heart rhythm
- decreased muscle tone
For this reason, only take Diclegis or vitamin B-6 for nausea under your doctor’s supervision.
It’s always important to discuss all medications with your doctor while pregnant to avoid those that may interact negatively with you or your child. Your doctor may recommend other approaches first, as most nausea in pregnancy subsides by the fourth month, or second trimester.
16. Try CBD oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil comes from an active compound in cannabis. CBD oil doesn’t contain THC, the main cannabinoid in cannabis that alters mental state.
Research is on-going and more is still needed, however, some studies have shown promising results. One study from 2012 on rats suggests that CBD produces anti-nausea effects indirectly in the brain.
CBD oil is available in many forms, including:
Dosing isn’t regulated and recommendations vary, so read the instructions on the package carefully and check with a medical professional before use. Only use medical-grade CBD oil to treat nausea.
CBD oil isn’t legal in every state, so be sure to check your state’s laws before purchasing or using it, and buy from a reputable source. Some states may allow CBD only with a doctor’s prescription.
When to see your doctor
When other symptoms accompany nausea, it may be serious. For instance, nausea with chest pain is a classic sign of a heart attack. Nausea with a severe headache or severe dizziness may indicate a neurological issue.
See your doctor if episodes of nausea last more than one month, or you have nausea and unexplained weight loss.
Get emergency help if you have nausea and:
- severe abdominal pain or cramping
- chest pain
- blurred vision
- high fever and stiff neck
- severe headache
Dehydration and nausea often go together. Get prompt medical attention if you have nausea and other symptoms of dehydration such as:
The bottom line
Most nausea is temporary and not serious. Home remedies and OTC medications may help, but sometimes nausea may still lead to vomiting. Vomiting often reduces nausea or makes it go away. However, vomiting and nausea can lead to dehydration very quickly.
These remedies are recommended for adults. Because children can get dehydrated much more quickly, bring the child in to see a doctor if the child is vomiting for more than 12 hours.
Many prescription medications can also cause nausea. If you regularly feel nauseous after taking a medication, talk to your doctor to see if another medication is available.