Nausea Definition

What is Nausea? Nausea is a feeling of uneasiness, sickness or discomfort particularly in one’s upper stomach that may lead to an urge to vomit. However, a person may or may not vomit after feeling nauseous. In case constant nausea or the feeling of nausea is prolonged, it often makes the individual feel weak and infirm.

Nausea Symptoms

  • Vomiting Tendency
  • Dizziness or the feeling of spinning around and losing one’s balance.
  • Fever & abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea, in this condition faeces are frequently discharged with the bowels in liquid form
  • Decreased urination & difficulty in urinate.
  • Chest pain accompanied with a feeling of dizziness
  • Confusion & feel extremely tired
  • Rapid pulse accompanied by breathing difficulty
  • Headaches or migraine pain.
  • Excessive sweating and fainting.

What Causes Nausea?

Some common causes of nausea include:

  1. Motion sickness or sea sickness: This condition occurs due to difference in the visually perceived ideas of movement and the vestibular system’s sense of movement. Motion sickness or sea sickness causes fatigue, dizziness and nausea.
  2. Early stages of pregnancy: During early stages of pregnancy, women often experience ‘morning sickness’ or ‘all day sickness’ which refers to a feeling of nausea. It happens due to the body’s reaction to the high levels of pregnancy hormones produced in the body.
  3. Gall bladder disease, food poisoning, Ulcers or Gastro paresis: Nausea is often regarded as a key indicator for several gall bladder problems. Food poisoning or food borne illness is a result of consuming spoilt, contaminated or toxic food. It causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Ulcers often results in nausea. Gastro paresis is a condition of slow stomach emptying seen in diabetic patients, it further induces nausea.
  4. Emotional stress and Bulimia: Chronic stress, fear or anxiety can cause the body to function abnormally causing stomach and intestinal disorders leading to nausea. Bulimia is an eating disorder which encompasses eating a lot within a short span of time followed by attempts to get rid of the food by vomiting or taking laxatives.
  5. Concussion, Brain injury or Brain tumor: A blow or jolt to the head can cause a disruption in the normal functioning of the brain. Nausea is caused in such cases of concussion or brain injury. Moreover, nausea along with other conditions such as seizures and convulsions may indicate a brain tumor.

Nausea Complications

  1. Dehydration: Nausea causes loss of fluids due to vomiting, sweating and diarrhea. Also nausea is accompanied by a feeling of fatigue and uneasiness. Hence the individual is not really concerned about drinking water at regular intervals that eventually leads to dehydration.
  2. Malnutrition: It is a condition in which the body does not receive the required amount of calories for its proper functioning. Nausea causes vomiting and loss of appetite which may result in a state of malnutrition.
  3. Effects on hair, nails and teeth: Hair and nail need nutrition for their healthy growth. Due to nausea, the body might not get the required amount of nutrients resulting in weakening of hair or developing brittle nails. Constant vomiting also causes decay of tooth enamel by stomach acids.
  4. Hypochloraemic alkalosis: It occurs when there is excessive loss of chloride from the body due to diarrhea. Watery bowels are passed often leading to wastage of chloride from the body.
  5. Tears in the lining of the esophagus: It may occur due to continuous vomiting. Minor tears may heal within 7 to 10 days, but in severe Nausea cases such as the ‘Mallory – Weiss’ tear, it can cause bleeding and may need surgery.
  6. Aspiration of stomach contents into the lungs: Nausea and vomiting may cause a possible aspiration of stomach contents into the lungs which may lead to aspiration pneumonitis. It is a situation that involves inhalation of gastric content into the respiratory tract causing breathing problems or pneumonia. This happens because of entry of the bacteria present in the gastric content.

Nausea Diagnosis

  1. Patient history: A thorough patient history must be obtained in order to diagnose the probable causes of nausea and vomiting. In case the patient shows symptoms of nausea that have a rapidly increasing effect, it needs immediate medical assistance. If it is for a short period of time, possible causes include infection due to drugs, toxins and infections. On the other hand, if the patient has a long standing history of nausea, it indicates chronic nausea.
  1. Timing: The timing of nausea and vomiting after eating is another factor that helps to understand the probable causes. Feeling of nausea within an hour of eating is commonly understood as an obstruction in the passage of food near the small intestine, causing gastro paresis and pyloric stenosis. However, feeling of nausea after several hours or days after the food is eaten indicates an obstruction further down in the intestine or the colon, causing gastroenteritis (infectious cause of nausea).
  1. Emesis: Emesis is the action or process of vomiting. Contents of the emesis help to understand the cause of nausea. Obstruction in the distal intestine or colon is indicated by the presence of bits of fecal matter in the emesis, while obstruction at a point after the stomach results in the emesis having a bilious nature. Moreover, emesis of undigested food is due to obstruction before the gastric outlet.
  1. Physical examination: Recording instances of dehydration and auscultation of the abdomen, i.e; the use of the stethoscope to understand the nature of bowel movement is also important. Bowel obstruction is indicated by a loud tinkling sound, while a gastric outlet obstruction is indicated by a splashing ‘succussion’ sound. Experience of pain by the patient when pressure is applied to the abdomen hints at an inflammatory process.
  1. Diagnostic testing: Liver function tests, abdominal x-rays, advanced procedures such as CT scan, upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, barium enima or MRI are some of the diagnostic tests undertaken in order to understand the probable cause of nausea. Other tests include gastric scintigraphy, wireless motility capsules and small intestinal manometry.

How To Get Rid Of Nausea

Any basic treatment for nausea usually comprises of the following recommended measures:

  • Adequate Intake of Water: When treating nausea, it is important to keep the body hydrated by the regular intake of fluids like water, juices, broth, etc.
  • Smaller quantities for Food: Food that is light and can be tolerated must be consumed in small quantities so that it gets adequate time for digestion. Also those vegetables that are rich in protein and do not lead to indigestion must be included in the regular diet.
  • Eat Food Slowly: Individuals suffering from extreme nausea must have small meals and eat them slowly. Doing this ensures that the food is digested properly and the necessary nutrients are obtained from it.
  • Right Posture after eating: After eating one must rest their heads in an elevated position. It would allow the food to pass down properly and avoid the chances of indigestion and vomiting.
  • Avoid Sweet and Greasy Foods: To avoid feeling nauseous, individuals must stay away from sweets and greasy food as they do not easily digest. These foods might also lead to indigestion and other similar problems.

Nausea Medication

Before prescribing any nausea medicines, the doctors will always evaluate the timings of vomiting or its tendency. They would further enquire the food habits and then conclude the recommended medicines based on the symptoms. Common medicines include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), trimethobenzamide (Tigan) and promethazine (Phenergan). However, it is strictly recommended that a doctor’s advised is taken before taking any of the mentioned options.

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