Nausea is the feeling of the need to vomit. Vomiting is the forcible voluntary or involuntary emptying (“throwing up”) of stomach contents through the mouth.
What Causes Nausea or Vomiting?
Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of many conditions such as:
- Motion sickness or seasickness
- Early stages of pregnancy
- Medication-induced vomiting
- Intense pain
- Emotional stress (such as fear)
- Gallbladder disease
- Food poisoning
- Infections (such as the “stomach flu”)
- A reaction to certain smells or odors
- Heart attack
- Concussion or brain injury
- Brain tumor
- Some forms of cancer
- Bulimia or other psychological illnesses
- Gastroparesis or slow stomach emptying (a condition that can be seen in people with diabetes)
- Ingestion of toxins or excessive amounts of alcohol
Nausea and vomiting are symptoms of other conditions. If you feel nauseated, you may have a stomach bug or other type of illness.
Nausea can be associated with:
- Abdominal pain
Call Your Doctor About Nausea and Vomiting If:
- You think you have food poisoning and cannot keep food or water down. Nausea and vomiting caused by food poisoning usually appear one to 24 hours after a meal and usually resolves quickly on their own. Some kinds of food poisoning, such as salmonella, may take longer.
- You have symptoms of nausea that last more than a week. If you are a woman and have been having sex without using birth control, you may be pregnant.
- You are an adult and have been vomiting for more than 24 hours.
- Your child under the age of 6 has been vomiting more than a few hours, has diarrhea or signs of dehydration, hasn’t urinated for six hours, or has a fever of more than 100 degrees F.
- Your child aged 6 and older has been vomiting for more than 24 hours, has signs of dehydration, hasn’t urinated for six hours, or has a fever of more than 102 degrees F.
See a Doctor or Call an Ambulance if:
- There is blood in the vomit or if the vomit looks like coffee grounds.
- The person vomiting becomes confused or sleepy or loses alertness.
- There is a severe headache or stiff neck.
- There is severe pain in the stomach or gut.
- There is rapid breathing or rapid pulse.
Treatment is focused on determining the underlying disease and treating it. Home treatments can help relieve nausea.
- Drink water, sports drinks, or broths. Juices and soft drinks should be avoided.
- Eat as tolerated, but only light, bland foods, such as crackers or plain bread to begin with. If your nausea is chronic, you’ll need to find a variety of vegetables and proteins that don’t upset your stomach to maintain proper nutrition.
- Stay away from fried or greasy foods.
- Steer clear of sweets.
- Eat small meals and eat them slowly.
- Rest a while after eating with your head elevated.
- After determining the cause of nausea and vomiting, there are prescription drugs that your doctor can give you if the symptoms are not getting better on their own.