Nausea is a feeling of significant unease and discomfort in the stomach. It is often accompanied by a simultaneous feeling of needing to vomit. It can arise in relation to your diet or some food that has disturbed your stomach, but it can also be connected to a wide range of non-food related factors. These can include morning sickness, cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy, and some reactions to heat and fever. Even motion sickness can cause nauseous feelings, as can, in some people, flying. Food poisoning is, of course, also a primary cause of feeling nauseous and is the biggest single cause of nausea for most people.
Nausea is not to be ignored, as it can leave you feeling extremely unsettled in the middle of your body, but also in your throat and head, especially after you’ve vomited.
The primary causes are those we have outlined above, but that list is not exhaustive, so you may well feel nausea due to something not listed above. Indigestion, certain viral infections, and reactions to some medications might also stimulate the body to feel it needs to expel contents of the stomach. It is important when you feel nausea to try to understand what might have been the causal triggers, as this can impact the treatment and approach you take to getting it sorted.
Medical treatment of Nausea
There are multiple meds on the market to treat nausea, and the option your doctor will choose will largely depend on the wider cause. Morning sickness nausea, for example, may not be prescribed the same medication as nausea that is a response to food poisoning. Because the causes can be various, it really is wise to talk to a medic, rather than just assume to take a traditional OTC nausea remedy, especially if the nausea continues over a period of days.
Mild cases of nausea may, for example, be able to have the tummy calmed with antiemetics like dramamine or benadryl. However, if the nausea is more persistent your doctor may choose to prescribe something more significant. These are meds with more notable side-effects, so you would certainly want to discuss these with your doctor. When it comes to medicines related to nausea, don’t be shy about asking a pharmacist or doctor for advice, and do not be complacent and just think you can take any medicine and not necessarily have side-effects.
Ginger tea is among the best drinks you can take when you are feeling nauseous. Ginger is widely known for its excellent all-round health-restoring properties, so make sure to have it at home. It is able to help shift excess gas from your gut, which will help to avoid many of the feelings of nausea that can come after a heavy meal. It is also an anti-inflammatory, so it is good for the lining of the stomach and throat after any bout of excessive activity and inflammation.
Peppermint and peppermint tea
Like ginger tea, peppermint tea is an excellent dietary staple. Peppermint has relaxant properties and peppermint tea helps to relax the muscles of the digestive tract, which can help reduce the pressure inside your abdomen that causes the feeling of nausea. Plus, it can also speed up the whole digestion process, thus reducing the amount of gas that could be causing any uncomfortable and nauseous feelings in the first place.
It is very simple to make. Just add a few peppermint leaves to a cup of hot water, and let it steep for a few minutes. You can keep the leaves in there until you have finished drinking it, to deepen the flavor. Like ginger, peppermint is a herb with a centuries long reputation as a restorative and healing natural aid to health.
Chamomile is the other go-to tea for an upset stomach that is feeling nauseous. It is naturally soothing and will work to calm down the stomach and make it feel less likely to vomit. It is also a tea that works to reduce inflammation, so it is an excellent drink to take after a bout of vomiting.
How to Get Rid of Nausea
Hydration is the secret to so much good health! It is exceptionally important for our bodies when it comes to avoiding feeling nausea. The general medical recommendation is for most people to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day to ensure that the body and the brain are properly hydrated. If you consistently fall short of this level of hydration you will put stress on your body and it will have much more difficulty functioning well and protecting you.
Remember that hydration is not merely about glasses of water. Your stomach needs foods with a high water content too. Fruits, vegetables, broths, teas, and light juices that are not high in sugar are all helpful to your body’s hydration levels and the workings of your stomach.
Not many people are aware of this option, but in fact there are many aromatherapeutic remedies for nausea. The scent receptors in our nose process odors and these are directly linked to the brain. This means that when a pleasant aroma is breathed in it sends signals to the brain to help the brain ease symptoms of nauseousness. Think of it as a form of de-stressing the whole body, with the positive effect that you also implicitly calm the stomach. Lavender, peppermint, lemon, lime and ginger oils are all excellent choices.
This process is really the inverse of the more horrible situation we all will have experienced of where we instantly feel like vomiting when we smell vomit or feces, even though we might otherwise be feeling perfectly well. Smells have an impact on the brain and what it makes the body want to do, so make sure to have aromatherapy oils and scents around you if you’re feeling nauseous.
Eat probiotic foods
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that help to keep your gut healthy and reduce symptoms such as nausea. They are essential when it comes to maintaining gut health and warding off illness. You can find probiotics in many natural foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso. Most supermarkets now carry vast ranges of kefir, and these can be a terrific addition to a diet if used in moderation. You can also take supplements or look for probiotics that are included in other foods such as granola bars or cereals. Over time, these foods will make it less likely you suffer from bouts of nausea.
Eat small meals
Eating small meals helps your stomach, which does not like being overwhelmed or suddenly stuffed full. By having smaller meals, your digestive system is allowed to be more efficient in breaking down the food and extracting maximal nutrition.
Avoiding certain trigger foods or activities or environments can help to reduce the severity of any nausea you might be feeling. If you know your tummy is tender one day, avoid the things that might tip it into feeling fully nauseous. For example, if you occasionally experience nausea after eating certain foods, perhaps, for example, shellfish, simply avoid those foods, even if you like them! Similarly, if you feel nauseous in hot environments, do what you can to control your working or home atmospheres. As we said above, for some people it is horrible smells that are the problem, so if you are aware your body had violent nauseous reactions to being in smelly unhygienic environments, steer clear.
Yoga and deep breathing
At its core, yoga is focused on building a connection between your body, mind, and spirit. So, when you practice specific poses, the idea is for your body to harmonize internally. A positive effect of this is to reduce the uncomfortable pressure and stomach-based tension that can be associated with nausea. Yoga can also aid in digestion, as it works to make your body more focused on bodily control and the body’s regular rhythms, which also limits the possibility of any nausea taking hold.
Even if you do not manage full-on yoga, deep breathing can have an amazingly good effect on the body. Take a deep breath in, hold it for a few seconds, and then carefully exhale, counting to ten as you do so. This simple, ancient, and entirely natural practice can help to reduce feelings of dizziness and nausea, as well as providing a way to relax and de-stress. It’s also an easy measuring stick for progress, because your breathing will become easier in line with your nausea subsiding.
This might sound a distinctly unlikely idea, but it works. The body does not want to focus on areas of pain, so give it something else to focus on. Even a few light stretches, or a task as simple as washing up, gives it something else to have its mind on. Do not underestimate the overall power of the body to help itself avoid distress.
Antacids are a useful thing to have around for occasional bouts of nausea. They are widely available, safe to use, and generally helpful in most cases. Remember, however, that sustained use of these is not wise and will indicate an underlying issue you need to address more long-term, so do not become reliant on them for a stable gut.
These are not likely to be required for most cases of nausea. But as we said at the start, if you have other more serious medical conditions, or are pregnant, then you may need to speak to a doctor to ensure that the meds you are taking to deal with nausea are not going to have side-effects that might affect other meds or harm you in other ways.
When to See a Doctor
Severe or persistent nausea
Because nausea can be a sign of other deeper bodily issues, you need to have this checked out. If you have suddenly found yourself feeling regularly more nauseous, speak to a doctor, as this can be sometimes a sign of serious medical conditions, including cancers and some other malignant illnesses that could be manifesting themselves in the stomach, even though they are problems in another part of the body altogether.
Dealing with repeated episodes of mild nausea
Repeated bouts of mild nausea can sometimes be dealt with by modest lifestyle changes. Exercise is unequivocally one of the best things you can do to reduce the feelings of heaviness that can be coincident with nausea. In reality, almost any exercise will help you, and even a gentle walk for twenty minutes or so can be an aid to digestion and the reduction of nauseous feelings.
Often it is quite simple lifestyle adjustments like adding in more regular exercise that can help you. In addition, reductions in the amount of processed foods you eat, or your sodium intake, or cakes and biscuits can make a big difference. Smoking is also a factor in some people’s nausea, so try to give up smoking. Drinking alcohol is also a negative factor when it comes to some people’s nausea, so drink alcohol only moderately, or not at all.
Unusual signs and symptoms
While for most people nausea is experienced as a sensation of queasiness in the tummy or an upset stomach, there are other bodily indicators that your body may not be functioning well or that it might need some medical attention, and these symptoms can often be where you feel the distress that then, often quite suddenly, might lead to vomiting.
- Feeling faint or lightheaded
- Blurred vision
- Muscle weakness
In truth, some of these symptoms are genuinely concerning, so make sure that if you have repeated occasions when you are feeling any of these things and you then vomit or feel heavily nauseous, you see a doctor. Though the situation will likely not be too serious, there are certainly some very serious medical conditions that could be linked to these symptoms, such as brain tumors or forms of cancer.
Accompanying headaches or fever
As above, these symptoms are likely not unduly serious and will be cured with a paracetamol or ibuprofen or some application of a hot or cold compress to alleviate tension. They may also be due to dehydration.
However, if you are quite suddenly feeling regularly nauseous and have accompanying headaches, see a doctor, as this collision of symptoms is not something to ignore.