Nausea is one of the most common medical symptoms and it can be related to many different conditions. Usually, nausea is not a sign of a serious problem and passes on its own. But in other cases, nausea may be a sign of a health condition that needs attention, such as stomach flu, pregnancy, or a side effect from medication.
Nausea is defined as having discomfort in the stomach usually accompanied by an urge to vomit. Discomfort might include heaviness, tightness, and a feeling of indigestion that doesn’t go away.
Vomiting is what happens when your body empties its stomach contents through your mouth. Not all cases of nausea cause vomiting.
Nausea can affect all people of all ages. Your nausea might be caused by something as simple as eating a food that doesn’t agree with your stomach. But in other cases, nausea has more serious causes.
Common causes of nausea include:
- chemotherapy from cancer treatment
- digestive problems such as gastroparesis
- inner ear infections
- migraine headache
- motion sickness
- obstruction in the intestines
- stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis)
Morning sickness is a common symptom of pregnancy. It’s described as nausea experienced during pregnancy, usually in the mornings after waking up. It’s most common during a woman’s first trimester. Sometimes, it begins as early as two weeks after conception.
Morning sickness is an uncomfortable condition that can occur with or without vomiting. But the main difference between nausea caused by morning sickness and nausea caused by other conditions is morning sickness is accompanied by other symptoms of early pregnancy. These symptoms include:
- A delayed or missed period. Some people may experience bleeding after they become pregnant but this bleeding is very light and is much shorter than a typical period. A missed period can also be caused by excessive weight loss or gain, fatigue, stress, change in birth control use, illness, high activity level, and breastfeeding.
- A change in breasts. Usually pregnancy causes swollen or sensitive breasts that feel tender to the touch. It can also cause darkening of the areas around the nipples (areolas). These changes in breasts can be caused by hormonal imbalances, changes in birth control, and PMS.
- Tiredness or fatigue. This symptom can also be caused by stress, overworking, mental health problems such as depression, the cold, the flu, a virus, allergies, insomnia, and poor nutrition.
- Lower backaches. These can also be caused by PMS, poor form when exercising, injury, poor sleeping habits, poor footwear, being overweight, and stress.
- Headaches. Headaches are commonly caused by dehydration and caffeine. They can also be caused by PMS, withdrawals from drugs or alcohol, eye strain, and stress.
- Mood swings caused by hormonal changes. You might feel happy one moment and depressed another. Mood swings can also be caused by poor nutrition, hormonal imbalances, or underlying mental health issues.
- Frequent urination. This can also be caused by urinary tract infections and diabetes, as well as an increase in liquid intake, or consumption of diuretics such as coffee.
- Food cravings or food aversions. You might feel like eating foods you normally don’t like eating or avoiding foods you normally like to eat. These symptoms can also be caused by a poor diet, lack of proper nutrition, anxiety and stress, depression, PMS, or illness.
You should consider taking a pregnancy test if you experience nausea with a few of these symptoms, especially if you’ve missed a period.
The only way to know for certain whether or not you’re pregnant is to take a pregnancy test. You can get early detection tests at most drug stores. If you want a certain result, your doctor can do a blood test to check for pregnancy.
Both morning sickness and nausea can greatly impact your quality of life.
If you’re not pregnant and you’ve been nauseous for more than a month, especially with weight loss, schedule an appointment with your doctor. In the meantime, try to relax and stay hydrated.
Keep away from strong odors such as perfume and food and other triggers like heat that could make your nausea worse. Stick to eating bland foods such as crackers and rice, and take over-the-counter motion sickness medication.
Eating small meals and snacks, staying hydrated, avoiding nausea triggers, and taking vitamin B-6 supplements and antihistamines can ease most cases of morning sickness.
If you’re pregnant and experiencing morning sickness that’s getting in the way of your daily activities, schedule a visit to your doctor. They can prescribe anti-nausea medication that will make you feel better and able to eat so you can nourish your pregnant body.
Again, in most cases, nausea and morning sickness are not a cause for concern. But it’s important to see a doctor if you’re concerned or if your symptoms are getting in the way of your daily activities, so you can be happy and healthy.