13 Causes of Nausea—Besides a Typical Stomach Bug (2022)

You know the feeling: Your stomach starts churning, you begin swallowing a little harder, and you automatically make a mental map of the nearest bathrooms—just in case.

Nausea can truly strike anytime, anywhere—and when it does, you quickly start retracing your steps: What you ate, if you've been around anyone who was sick, and, for some people, when your last period was. But aside from gastroenteritis and, you know, expecting a child, nausea can be caused by a range of other things. Here, 13 other common (but still surprising) causes of nausea—and how to feel better.

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13 Causes of Nausea—Besides a Typical Stomach Bug (1)

Nausea can be a common symptom of anxiety. Here's what happens according to a 2022 review published in China Life Sciences: When you're in the throes of a panic attack, your body shifts into "fight-or-flight" mode. Adrenaline is pumped into your bloodstream, preparing you to take on a major physical challenge—like running or climbing.

In the meantime, bodily functions like digestion come to a virtual standstill, which leads to the accumulation of certain toxins in the body, Dr. Eugene Vaynkof, a family medicine physician at Integrated Medical Alliance in New Jersey, explained to Health. Eventually, chemical signals reach your brain and spark the sensation of nausea, Dr. Vaynkof said.

12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis

13 Causes of Nausea—Besides a Typical Stomach Bug (2)

Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain? Classic signs of a stomach bug. But these same symptoms can be a red flag for a serious complication of type 1 diabetes, said endocrinologist Elizabeth Holt, MD, assistant consulting professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. According to a 2022 review in Critical Care Nursing Quarterly, diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin. The cells begin burning fat for fuel, causing high levels of chemicals called ketones to build up in urine and blood. People start to feel bad and get nauseated when they go into ketoacidosis, Dr. Holt said.

The condition can lead to coma or death, especially in people who don't know they have diabetes or don't recognize the warning signs, such as extreme thirst and frequent urination.

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(Video) Gastroparesis Signs & Symptoms (ex. Nausea, Abdominal Pain, Weight Loss)

13 Causes of Nausea—Besides a Typical Stomach Bug (3)

This hormonal disorder means your adrenal glands, which are right above your kidneys, can't produce high enough amounts of certain hormones. One cause of adrenal insufficiency is Addison's disease, an autoimmune disease that damages the adrenals and limits their production of cortisol, a vital hormone for growth, metabolism, and other functions.

How do you know if your adrenals aren't working properly? "The classic symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and, if it continues, your blood pressure goes down so much you go into shock," Dr. Holt said. People with adrenal insufficiency who experience these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention; without treatment, the condition can be deadly.

Heart Attack

13 Causes of Nausea—Besides a Typical Stomach Bug (4)

Beware of nausea or a sick feeling in your stomach–even if you don't have chest pain. It could mean you're having a heart attack.

Women are more likely to report these less typical cardiac symptoms than men, said Amnon Beniaminovitz, MD, a cardiologist at Manhattan Cardiology in New York City. Dr. Beniaminovitz told Health that he's had patients who present with acid reflux-like symptoms who've were actually having heart attacks, so it's really important to get checked out.

"Sometimes the pain of heart attack is described as stomach pain, or pain in the middle of the upper abdomen," Dr Beniaminovitz said. Rather than a sharp, stabbing pain, it can feel more like "discomfort or heaviness" or even indigestion.

What It's Like to Have a Heart Attack in Your 20s or 30s

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13 Causes of Nausea—Besides a Typical Stomach Bug (5)

Heartburn is the hallmark of acid reflux and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). But fiery pain in your chest or abdomen isn't the only symptom. When stomach acid or stomach contents churn back into the esophagus, some people experience nausea.

Dr. Beniaminovitz told Health about a 26-year-old male who came in with nausea and discomfort, symptoms that can signal a possible heart attack. After a thorough workup to rule out a cardiac cause, the young man's problem was easy remedied with over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors, Dr. Beniaminovitz said.

10 Natural Ways to Beat Heartburn

(Video) Diarrhoea and vomiting - dos and don'ts | NHS

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Gastroparesis

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Nausea is among the unpleasant symptoms that accompany gastroparesis, a potentially debilitating digestive disorder. For various reasons (sometimes a complication of diabetes), the movement of food from the stomach to small intestine slows down.

"Food sits around in your stomach–warm and dark and moist–and ferments," said Virginia Beach-based gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond, MD, assistant professor of clinical internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

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You'd likely know if you swallowed something you weren't supposed to. But then again, you might not: It's easy to accidentally gulp down small fish bones from a salmon dinner or a wire barbecue brush bristle that gets stuck to the grill and embedded in a burger. That foreign body in your stomach can lead to nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Another, less common reason for eating things that aren't food—pica, which is a disorder that causes people to intentionally swallow non-food items. According to a 2022 resesearch article published in Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, this can be a result of a psychiatric condition or iron deficiency.

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Gallbladder Disease

13 Causes of Nausea—Besides a Typical Stomach Bug (8)

Sudden right-side abdominal pain after a meal of greasy or fatty food is a classic description of a gallbladder attack. The pain usually strikes when hard particles, called gallstones, block ducts that carry bile (which aids digestion). Occasionally, though, people with gallbladder problems just have nausea, Dr. Raymond said.

Whether it's pain or nausea that's bothering you, don't assume you're "out of the woods" if stones don't show up on an ultrasound, Dr. Raymond added. Other imaging tests can assess gallbladder function, which may reveal trouble with your bile-storing organ. Sometimes, Dr. Raymond said, "we discover that it's inflamed and thick and ugly." If gallstones aren't causing that queasiness, inflammation, infection, excessive alcohol consumption, or even a tumor may be to blame.

(Video) How to Treat Dehydration for Stomach Bugs in Children: Oral Rehydration Therapy

7 Signs That You Might Have Gallstones

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13 Causes of Nausea—Besides a Typical Stomach Bug (9)

This scary syndrome, which is more common among children but affects adults too, causes sudden, repeated attacks of severe nausea and vomiting for no apparent reason. A single episode can last for hours or days.

"Mild nausea is not the way you would describe these people," Dr. Raymond said. "They're just laid low by this."

While the cause is unclear, research, such as a 2021 research article published in the Journal of Child Neurology, reveals an association between cyclical vomiting syndrome and migraines–even simply a family history of the intense headaches. Patients are typically treated with migraine medicine.

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Vasovagal Syncope

13 Causes of Nausea—Besides a Typical Stomach Bug (10)

Pale and nauseous at the sight of blood? That uneasy feeling–and subsequent fainting–is vasovagal syncope, a brief loss of consciousness also called "passing out."

A cascade of symptoms occurs when some trigger stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls involuntary body functions. "When it is over-stimulated, it can cause the feeling of nausea," Dr. Beniaminovitz said.

Triggers such as pain, anxiety, prolonged standing, and straining to have a bowel movement can all lead to a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure. Before blacking out, people can feel lightheaded and queasy, and they may have heart palpitations. Other symptoms include a clammy or sweaty feeling, ringing in the ears, or blurred or tunnel vision.

This Is the Real Reason Why Seeing Blood Makes You Faint

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(Video) PEDIATRICIAN discusses how to manage stomach viruses in your child

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A 2015 review article published in Histopathology explained that plenty of prescription and over-the-counter medications carry nausea as a side effect. These includeoral bisphosphonates for osteoporosis and injectable diabetes medicines that control blood sugar by slowing digestion. Some blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, and antibiotics can also cause nausea. Talk to the prescribing doctor if you're on any of these medications and experience queasiness.

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OTC Painkillers or Supplements

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Even common pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can cause nausea (as well as a risk of erosion of the lining of the stomach and bleeding.)

"In the time that they sit on the surface of the stomach, which is anywhere between a half-hour and an hour, they can cause significant irritation," said doctor of pharmacy Patrick Meek, associate professor at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Take them with food to avoid nausea, or look for "enteric-coated" versions that help protect the stomach.

Certain vitamins and supplements should also be taken with food to avoid queasiness. Iron and vitamin C in particular can upset your stomach. "They have a local irritating effect just because of the formulations, but as soon as they pass the stomach, those symptoms tend to subside," Meek said.

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13 Causes of Nausea—Besides a Typical Stomach Bug (13)

Smoking marijuana, which some people do to relieve nausea, may have the opposite effect.

As marijuana has been legalized in more states, hospital emergency rooms have seen more and more cases of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition linked to medical or recreational pot use that causes bouts of severe nausea and vomiting, as described in a 2016 case report and review published in British Medical Journal Case Reports. "You can get hospitalized for retching that's so severe that you tear your esophagus," Dr. Raymond said.

11 Things to Know About Pot and Your Health

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Scientists don't yet know why this happens, but quitting cannabis seems to resolve symptoms in most patients, according to the case report.

FAQs

What are the other causes of nausea? ›

Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but rather are symptoms of many different conditions, such as infection ("stomach flu"), food poisoning, motion sickness, overeating, blocked intestine, illness, concussion or brain injury, appendicitis and migraines.

What is constant nausea a symptom of? ›

Some common causes of constant nausea include pregnancy, gastroparesis, and bowel obstructions. Antinausea medications and home remedies may help control nausea. However, a person with constant nausea should seek medical help, as it is a sign of an underlying condition.

What causes sudden nausea and upset stomach? ›

Food allergies. Infections of the stomach or bowels, such as the "stomach flu" or food poisoning. Leaking of stomach contents (food or liquid) upward (also called gastroesophageal reflux or GERD) Medicines or medical treatments, such as cancer chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

Why do I feel nauseous and fatigued? ›

Fatigue and nausea are symptoms that commonly occur together. In some cases, they are the result of lifestyle habits, such as poor sleep or diet, or lack of exercise. In other instances, they may signal an underlying mental or physical health issue that requires treatment.

What gets rid of nausea fast? ›

Do
  1. get plenty of fresh air.
  2. distract yourself – for example, listen to music or watch a film.
  3. take regular sips of a cold drink.
  4. drink ginger or peppermint tea.
  5. eat foods containing ginger – such as ginger biscuits.
  6. eat smaller, more frequent meals.

How do you stop chronic nausea? ›

Drinking lots of clear liquids to stay hydrated. Eating small meals, which allow your stomach to digest foods more gradually. Eating a bland diet with foods that are easy for your stomach to digest, such as plain rice and bananas. Avoiding foods that can upset your stomach such as spicy, fried, and processed foods.

Can IBS make you feel nauseous? ›

Answer – Nausea is a common symptom reported by patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In one of our studies conducted at UCLA, we found that about 4 out of 10 women (38%) with IBS and nearly 3 out of 10 men (27%) with IBS report nausea.

What can cause vomiting with no other symptoms? ›

Other causes of vomiting in adults
  • certain medicines, such as antibiotics and opioid painkillers.
  • drinking too much alcohol.
  • kidney infections and kidney stones.
  • a blockage in your bowel, which may be caused by a hernia or gallstones.
  • chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  • acute cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
29 Apr 2022

Why am I waking up nauseous every morning? ›

Morning nausea can also be caused by your diet. For example, eating a big meal right before bed might cause acid reflux. It could also be a sign your blood sugar is low. So Jodorkovsky recommends eating something, even if you don't feel like it.

Does anxiety cause nausea? ›

Yes, anxiety can cause nausea and other gastrointestinal problems. Outside of your brain, your digestive system contains the second largest number of nerves in your body. Some scientists even call your gut your "second brain."

What should I eat when feeling nauseous? ›

Avoid spicy or fatty foods: A blander diet made up of foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce, crackers or baked potatoes may relieve nausea and decrease the likelihood of an upset stomach. Add protein to your meals: Protein-rich meals may fight off nausea better than meals high in fat or carbs ( 46 ).

What causes vomiting without diarrhea? ›

Vomiting alone (without diarrhea) should stop within about 24 hours. If it lasts over 24 hours, you must think about more serious causes. Examples are appendicitis, a kidney infection, diabetes and head injury. A serious cause in young babies is pyloric stenosis.

Where do you put the pressure for nausea? ›

Pressure Point P-6 (Neiguan) Pressure point P-6 is also called Neiguan (nay-gwann). It is found on your inner arm near your wrist. Doing acupressure on this point can help with nausea and prevent vomiting.

How should you sleep when nauseous? ›

How should you sleep if you feel nauseous? You should sleep elevated and on your side when feeling nauseous. While it does not matter which side you lay on, sleeping on your side can reduce your chances of choking if you were to vomit in your sleep.

Why do I want to sleep all the time and have no energy? ›

You may be too exhausted even to manage your daily affairs. In most cases, there's a reason for the fatigue. It might be allergic rhinitis, anemia, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease (COPD), a bacterial or viral infection, or some other health condition.

Why do I feel bloated and nauseous and tired? ›

Bloating, nausea, and tiredness can occur due to a wide range of causes. Temporary explanations can include eating rich or salty meals, eating too much, or short-term stress. Longer-term causes include conditions such as IBS, SIBO, and gastroparesis.

Why are bananas good for nausea? ›

Bananas can help relieve an upset stomach by stimulating the production of mucus from the stomach lining. The mucus creates a barrier between the stomach lining and the acidic gastric substances that cause heartburn and stomach upset.

Does Sprite help with nausea? ›

While drinking soft drinks like Sprite can be soothing to the stomach for some, its carbonation can be irritating for others. Soda's high sugar content means it's maybe not the healthiest or best drink for nausea, but it can provide quick relief.

Is ginger ale Good for nausea? ›

Ginger, a member of the plant family that includes turmeric and cardamom, has been proven to be effective at treating nausea and vomiting — two hallmarks of a classic upset stomach. In fact, ginger is even used to treat morning sickness, muscle pain and menstrual pain.

Does probiotic help with nausea? ›

What the researchers found was that taking the probiotic significantly reduced nausea and vomiting. Nausea hours (the number of hours participants felt nauseous) were reduced by 16%, and the number of times they vomited was reduced by 33%.

What kind of doctor treats nausea? ›

Gastroenterologists treat disorders of the gastrointestinal tract including the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. A gastroenterologist may manage nausea and vomiting. Internists provide primary care and treatment for common conditions including motion sickness.

Can colon problems cause nausea? ›

Nausea and vomiting can occur if a colon or rectal tumor is obstructing the bowel and inhibiting the passage of liquid or solid waste or gas. Bowel blockage can also be accompanied by painful abdominal cramps, bloating and constipation.

What are the symptoms of functional dyspepsia? ›

Signs and symptoms of functional dyspepsia may include: Pain or burning in the stomach, bloating, excessive belching, or nausea after meals. An early feeling of fullness (satiety) when eating. Pain in the stomach that may sometimes occur unrelated to meals or may be relieved with meals.

Can ibuprofen help with nausea? ›

Best for flu: Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin)

You may be used to taking this OTC medicine for headaches, but it can also help with nausea that often comes with the flu. "It's an anti-inflammatory that interferes with the effects of the virus' attack on the body," explains Mayo.

How do you know if its anxiety or nausea? ›

Nausea is often a symptom of being overly anxious or stressed. If you are experiencing anxiety-related nausea, the symptom does not continue when you feel calm and back to normal again. However, if you continue feeling nauseous over a long period of time, there's a good chance there are other reasons.

How long does nausea usually last? ›

When the cause can be traced to spoiled food, motion sickness or a viral illness, nausea is usually short lived and should not be a cause for concern. In most cases, the queasy feeling lasts no more than minutes to a few hours and usually goes away on its own within 24 hours.

Does anxiety cause nausea? ›

Yes, anxiety can cause nausea and other gastrointestinal problems. Outside of your brain, your digestive system contains the second largest number of nerves in your body. Some scientists even call your gut your "second brain."

What should I eat when I have nausea? ›

If you are feeling nauseous, choose dry, starchy, and bland foods like crackers, noodles, and toast. Plus, stay hydrated by drinking clear fluids.
...
  • Ginger. Share on Pinterest. ...
  • Water and clear beverages. ...
  • Cold foods. ...
  • Broths. ...
  • Bananas. ...
  • Applesauce. ...
  • Protein-rich meals. ...
  • Herbal tea.

How do you stop chronic nausea? ›

Drinking lots of clear liquids to stay hydrated. Eating small meals, which allow your stomach to digest foods more gradually. Eating a bland diet with foods that are easy for your stomach to digest, such as plain rice and bananas. Avoiding foods that can upset your stomach such as spicy, fried, and processed foods.

How do you make anxiety nausea go away? ›

Try these when you feel nauseated:
  1. Eat a small amount of something dry, like plain crackers or plain bread.
  2. Slowly sip water or something clear and cold.
  3. If you're wearing something tight, change into clothing that doesn't restrict your stomach.
  4. Try to calm yourself by taking long, deep breaths.

How do you get rid of nausea from anxiety? ›

Walking, drinking water slowly, and light eating can be helpful, but anxiety reduction will be the only way to stop anxiety-related nausea.

Where do you put the pressure for nausea? ›

Pressure Point P-6 (Neiguan) Pressure point P-6 is also called Neiguan (nay-gwann). It is found on your inner arm near your wrist. Doing acupressure on this point can help with nausea and prevent vomiting.

How does nausea without vomiting feel like? ›

Nausea usually feels like the urge to vomit. Not all people who feel nauseated throw up, but many have the overwhelming sensation that throwing up would help them feel better. Some people also experience abdominal pain, dizziness, headaches or muscle pain, intense fatigue, or a generalized feeling of sickness.

Is nausea a symptom of depression? ›

Depression, anxiety, and stress have been shown to affect the movement and contractions of the GI tract, which can cause diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.

Can you worry yourself sick? ›

Illness anxiety disorder, sometimes called hypochondriasis or health anxiety, is worrying excessively that you are or may become seriously ill. You may have no physical symptoms.

Why do I feel nauseous and shaky in the morning? ›

Low blood sugar and hunger

Low blood sugar can cause nausea , as well as symptoms such as dizziness, shaking, confusing, and even fainting. In the morning, hunger often causes low blood sugar, so eating a meal may help.

Why do potato chips help nausea? ›

Pretzels and plain potato chips can help settle your stomach. Why? Because they're bland, salty, non-acidic, easy to digest, and require minimal effort from your gastrointestinal system. Remember, foods with strong odors and flavors can make nausea worse.

What candy is good for nausea? ›

Chewing on crystallized ginger or candied ginger can help reduce nausea. Ginger tea and ginger ale are also helpful.

Is peanut butter good for nausea? ›

Nuts. A lack of protein can make nausea feel even worse, so look to protein-packed foods, such as nuts — even peanut butter, as long as you're not allergic — that are easy to digest. They'll quickly replenish your depleted energy and help keep your nausea at bay.

Videos

1. Vegas pediatrician warns of stomach virus sweeping the valley
(KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas)
2. Hyperemesis Gravidarum | Pregnant women suffering from condition far worse than morning sickness
(CBS 8 San Diego)
3. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome
(Strong Medicine)
4. Med Talk, Health Talk: Stomach flu vs Food Poisoning
(CNN Philippines)
5. What is the best way to care for a child with vomiting and diarrhea?
(Children's Wisconsin)
6. "Stomach Flu" or Food Poisoning - The Queen's Medical Center - Ask a Specialist
(KHON2 News)

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