Morning sickness, involving nausea and vomiting, is very common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. However, other conditions can cause it as well.
Nausea is the feeling that you’re going to throw up. You may have other symptoms such as diarrhea, sweating, and abdominal pain or cramping as well.
Keep reading to discover other conditions that can leave you feeling queasy in the morning.
Anyone can wake up feeling nauseated.
Nausea and vomiting are among the earliest symptoms of pregnancy. It’s known as morning sickness. These symptoms are most likely to appear around week 6, but they can occur earlier. They usually go away between weeks 16 and 20.
Although it’s called morning sickness, this symptom can occur at any time of day. Some pregnant people experience ongoing nausea throughout the day.
Fatigue or sleep issues
Jet lag, insomnia, or an early alarm can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. These changes in your regular sleeping pattern shift your body’s neuroendocrine response, which can sometimes lead to nausea.
Inner ear infection
The vestibular system in your inner ear helps your body stay balanced. When you have an infection in your inner ear, it can make you feel unbalanced and dizzy, which can cause nausea and vomiting.
Hunger or low blood sugar
If the last time you ate was at dinner, 12 or more hours may have passed by the time you wake up in the morning. A low level of glucose in your blood can leave you feeling dizzy, weak, or nauseous. Skipping breakfast — especially if you usually eat breakfast — may make it worse.
Acid reflux occurs when the entrance to the stomach doesn’t close properly after you eat or drink, letting stomach acid escape into the esophagus and throat. The sour taste, along with other symptoms such as burping or coughing, can leave you feeling nauseated.
Acid reflux can be worse in the morning, even if it’s been hours since you last ate. This might be because you’re in a reclined position and swallow less when you’re sleeping.
Sinus congestion or postnasal drip
Sinus congestion puts pressure on your inner ear, which can lead to an upset stomach and nausea. It can also cause dizziness, which can result in nausea and vomiting.
We often feel emotions such as stress, excitement, and anxiety in our gut.
Nausea in the morning might be related to a stressful event, such as an upcoming important meeting. In other cases, it’s caused by chronic or ongoing sources of stress or anxiety.
Learn more about the connection between nausea and anxiety.
If you had a lot of alcohol to drink the previous night, your nausea might be the result of a hangover. A number of the effects of alcohol are associated with nausea, including low blood sugar and dehydration.
Nausea in the morning could be related to something you ate at breakfast. A mild food allergy or intolerance can cause nausea. In other cases, eating too much will leave you feeling nauseated.
Gastroparesis is a condition in which the muscles in the wall of your stomach slow down or stop. As a result, food doesn’t move from your stomach to your intestine. Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and delayed gastric emptying are common symptoms.
Gallstones form in your gallbladder when substances, such as cholesterol, harden. When gallstones get stuck in the bile duct that connects the gallbladder and intestine, it can be very painful. Nausea and vomiting often occur along with the pain.
Opioids are a class of drugs used to treat moderate to severe pain. A side effect of most of these drugs is nausea and vomiting.
Nausea and vomiting are well-documented side effects of some chemotherapy drugs. The drugs activate the part of your brain that controls nausea and vomiting. Sometimes the drugs also affect cells in the lining of your stomach, which can cause nausea and vomiting.
If you’ve already had nausea and vomiting from receiving chemotherapy, just the sights and smells that remind you of it can trigger nausea and vomiting.
Brain injury or concussion
Brain injuries and concussions can cause swelling in your brain. This increases the pressure in your skull, which can activate the place in your brain that regulates nausea and vomiting. Vomiting after experiencing head trauma indicates your head injury is significant and you should seek immediate medical attention.
When you eat or drink something contaminated, your body works quickly to get rid of it. If you have food poisoning, you might experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea along with an upset stomach or abdominal cramps.
If you’re experiencing nausea in the morning, the culprit could be something you ate the previous night.
Gastroenteritis isn’t the same as food poisoning, though it causes similar symptoms. This infection is caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. It’s transferred from person to person via contaminated feces, food, or drinking water.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes. It can occur when insulin scarcity forces the body to start breaking down fats instead of carbs to use as fuel.
This process results in a buildup of ketones in the bloodstream. Too many ketones can cause symptoms such as nausea, confusion, and extreme thirst. Seek emergency medical assistance right away if this happens.
Peptic ulcers are sores that affect the inner lining of the stomach and intestines. They typically cause stomach pain, but they can also cause nausea and vomiting.
Constipation can cause nausea. When digested matter is backed up in your colon, it slows down the function of your entire gastrointestinal system, leading to nausea.
Motion sickness happens when your brain gets mixed signals about your movement.
For example, when you ride in a car, your eyes and your ears tell your brain that you’re moving but the area in your inner ear that helps you stay balanced, and your muscles, tell your brain that you aren’t moving. The mixed signals can cause nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
This happens most often in children and people who are pregnant.
Treatment for morning nausea depends on its cause.
Nausea due to pregnancy
People who experience morning sickness during the first trimester of pregnancy can try adapting their diet, increasing their fluid intake, and taking an antacid. When nausea and vomiting are severe, your doctor might prescribe a histamine blocker or proton pump inhibitor.
Nausea due to diet or lifestyle
When nausea in the morning is caused by your diet or lifestyle, following the advice below may help:
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Eat something small right after you wake up.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
- Avoid having a big meal right before bed.
- Avoid having fatty foods before bed.
- Use relaxation techniques to deal with stress.
Nausea due to medication
If you’re taking prescription medication that’s making you nauseated, talk to your doctor. They might suggest another type of medication or prescribe an anti-nausea drug to help you cope.
Nausea due to gastrointestinal issues or ear infection
If your morning nausea is the result of an underlying gastrointestinal issue or ear infection, seeking treatment for the issue will usually help relieve nausea and related symptoms.
Nausea due to motion sickness
If motion sickness is causing your nausea, sitting where you can get the smoothest ride and looking out into the distance can help. Anti-nausea pills or patches may also help.
See a doctor if morning nausea is disrupting your everyday activities and you’ve already ruled out pregnancy as a cause.
Most of the time, nausea in the morning isn’t a cause for concern. However, ongoing or severe nausea could be a sign of a serious condition.