Nausea is an unpleasant sensation of unease of the stomach which often precedes vomiting; the forcible voluntary or involuntary emptying of stomach contents through the mouth. Despite not being painful, nausea can be a debilitating symptom if prolonged and can cause discomfort on the upper abdomen, back of the throat, or chest.
The purpose of this unpleasant sensation is to discourage a person or animal from repeating whatever is causing the unpleasantness, thus evoking revulsion towards whatever was eaten before vomiting it up – even if it was not the cause of nausea.
Moving on to nausea causes, nausea is considered as a non-specific symptom, as there are many possible conditions eliciting it. However, most common nausea causes are motion sickness, dizziness, food poisoning, migraine, fainting, low blood sugar, or gastroenteritis (stomach infection). Nausea can also be a side effect of many medications including chemotherapy, or morning sickness in early pregnancy. However, nausea may also be caused by many other factors which will be listed below.
Our bodies have evolved to protect themselves from any internal or external ‘threats’. One of the things we have developed is a protective mechanism which protects us from toxic things we might eat, intentionally or accidentally. So, if we ingest something that may cause harm in our bodies, there are many triggers that give us the urge to vomit; nausea. Two of the most powerful triggers are taste and smell.
When it comes to nausea causes, they may range from problems related directly to the digestive tract to problems related to the brain. So, to know some of the most common nausea causes, see the followings:
– Motion sickness or seasickness which causes the messages transmitted to the brain to not sync up with the senses, leading to nausea, dizziness, or vomiting
– Overeating or eating certain foods, such as spicy or high-fat foods
– Early stages of pregnancy
– A reaction to certain smells or odors
– Emotional stress (such as fear)
– Medication-induced vomiting
– Intense pain
– Concussion or brain injury
– Gallbladder disease
– Infections (such as the “stomach flu”)
– Heart attack
– Bulimia or other psychological illnesses like depression, anxiety, or disgust
– Brain tumor
– Some forms of cancer
– Gastroparesis or slow stomach emptying
– Bowel obstruction
– Ingestion of toxins or excessive amounts of alcohol
Sometimes, the timing of nausea or vomiting can be an indicator of the cause. For instance, if nausea occurs shortly after a meal, food poisoning, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), an ulcer, or bulimia might have been the cause. If nausea or vomiting happens one to eight hours after a meal may also indicate food poisoning. However, there are certain foodborne illnesses symptoms of which take longer to appear, such as salmonella infection.
Nausea causes might also differ based on age. Usually, children’s nausea causes include viral infection, milk allergy, overeating or feeding, food poisoning, motion sickness, coughing, or blocked intestines and illnesses whose symptoms include high fever. On the other hand, adults can experience nausea or vomiting mostly due to a viral infection and food poisoning.
When to seek medical help?
Usually, nausea is a sign of the body’s protective instinct at work, but sometimes it can indicate a dangerous condition, as mentioned above, and needs to be evaluated by a doctor.
Therefore, according to WebMD, for adults it is recommended to see a doctor if you experience nausea for more than one day, there are signs of dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting lasts more than 24 hours, and home treatments aren’t working.
Whereas for infants or children under six years old, it is suggested to take them to the doctor if vomiting lasts more than a few hours, signs of dehydration occur, diarrhea is present, there is a fever, or the child hasn’t urinated for 4-6 hours.
For children over six years old, seeing a doctor is suggested if vomiting and diarrhea lasts one day, there are any signs of dehydration, there is a fever higher than 101 degrees, or the child hasn’t urinated for 6 hours.
If, however, you notice blood in the vomit, you experience severe headache or stiff neck, confusion, lethargy, decreased alertness, abdominal pain, or rapid breathing or pulse, you should seek immediate medical care.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The Content is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please ALWAYS seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.