Diet and Nutrition

What Causes Nausea: An Overview of the Most Common Conditions

What Causes Nausea: An Overview of the Most Common Conditions

Key Takeaways

  • Pregnancy is one of the most common causes of nausea.
  • Certain medications can cause nausea.
  • Nausea can be difficult to describe as it is a very uncomfortable feeling.

Nausea is a term which describes a sick stomach and the feeling of wanting to vomit. It can be a sign to vomit the contents of the stomach. Nausea is a symptom, not a disease. It is caused by many diseases but can often be prevented. Almost all people experience nausea at some point, which makes it a common problem in medical field. Nausea is sometimes interchangeable with vomiting. Vomiting is described as an uncontrollable reflex which expels the stomach’s contents through the mouth. Vomiting is also called throwing up or being sick. Nausea can be mildly unpleasant and uncomfortable, or it can be serious to the point where it interferes with your life..

What are the Causes of Nausea?

There are a variety of reasons why people experience nausea. Sensitivity to medications, foods and motion or a certain condition can all cause nausea. Below are the most common causes of nausea:

Medications – There are certain medications that can cause nausea. A good example is chemotherapy. These medications can contribute to nausea and can upset the stomach. Reading the information regarding any medication you're taking can help lessen medication-related nausea. 

Pain – Everyone has their own pain threshold. People who experience intense pain may also experience nausea. Conditions such as kidney stones, gallbladder stones and pancreatitis can cause extreme pain, thus nausea. 

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or Heartburn – People with these conditions experience nausea because when they eat, the contents of the stomach can come back up their esophagus. As a result, a burning sensation arises, which causes nausea.

Pregnancy – This is one of the most common causes of nausea. Pregnant women who are at their first trimester of pregnancy often experience nausea. Nausea is also one of the first signs of pregnancy.

Motion Sickness or Seasickness – Certain people are more sensitive to movement. Most of the time, it occurs while they are travelling. The vehicle’s movement causes motion sickness or seasickness. When it happens, the messages transmitted to the brain will not sync up with the body’s senses. It will then lead to nausea, dizziness or vomiting.

Virus or Infection – Viruses and bacteria both affect the stomach thus, can lead to nausea. Viral infections like flu can cause nausea. Food-borne bacteria can lead to food poisoning which will then cause nausea. 

Diet – Eating certain foods such as high-fat and spicy foods and overeating could upset the stomach and lead to nausea. In addition, eating foods you’re allergic to can also cause nausea.

Ulcer – Ulcers in the stomach or the small intestine’s lining can lead to nausea. When a person with an ulcer eats, the ulcer causes a burning sensation and nausea.

Migraine Headaches – Migraine headaches cause severe pain. Although the headaches occur by episodes, nausea is experienced during an attack.

Low Blood Sugar Levels – When the body’s blood sugar levels decline, nausea may be experienced.

Alcohol Consumption – Alcohol intoxication and withdrawal from alcohol, including hangovers, can contribute to nausea. 

Other conditions which can cause nausea are: hepatitis, stomach irritation, gastroenteritis, stroke, brain tumors, head injury, meningitis and bleeding in or around the brain. Nausea may also be related to menstruation, constipation, emotional distress, vertigo, anesthesia and exposure to unpleasant odors or sights.

Nausea can be difficult to describe as it is a very uncomfortable feeling. It can be associated with the urge to vomit or distaste for food.

It is very important to know what causes your nausea as many factors can contribute on its occurrence. Seek medical help when you think your nausea is a medical emergency.