My Experience With Nausea
Today was an exceptionally bright day. At least the morning. The rest of the day was marred by Kate throwing up on me nonstop. She felt a strong sensation of nausea and dizziness. But why does she eat at that weird Mexican place when she knows it makes her stomach sick? Every time she goes there, she feels a gut-wrenching, stomach-turning urge to release all that her belly holds. I mean, the stomach is an elastic bag made of muscular walls containing acid. We read that in science once. But why does Kate’s stomach hold a serious grudge against Mexican food?
Well, this afternoon, I thought it could be food poisoning and so we went to see Dr. Goldman. He is the gastroenterologist at our local hospital. And guess what he said. It was food poisoning after all. But he also mentioned some other causes of nausea that won’t go away and long vomiting sessions that would totally ruin your Persian carpet. So I decided to do a write-up on the causes, complications and remedial measures of nausea. It might seem like an insignificant topic but you will wish you had read this the next time your stomach fails you.
What is Nausea?
Nausea is a strong and often involuntary urge to vomit. It is accompanied by headaches, stomach ache, and uneasiness. Although a person can feel nauseous without vomiting, often times patients don’t feel well until they have. So vomiting is a common behavior associated with nausea. Motion sickness, migraines, stomach troubles and pregnancy lead to nausea. It can also be a side effect of some medications. In this article, we will study the following aspects of nausea in detail:
- Causes Of Nausea
- Symptoms Of Nausea (A Misunderstanding)
- Home Remedies
- Medications For Nausea
Causes Of Nausea
Feeling queasy and don’t know the reason? Well, we can help you identify the cause of your suffering. The common causes of nausea are listed below.
- Motion Sickness
- Morning sickness
- Acute severe dizziness
- Excessive Consumption Of Alcohol
- Serious Chronic Diseases
- Food Poisoning
- Drug Side Effects
Our ancestors were not fast travelers. Short on cars and airplanes and even huge ships, their brains got used to monitoring locomotion through both their eyes and ears. But now when the fluid in your ears detects movement, your eyes fail to keep up as your surroundings don’t change much. The inside of the car remains same, right?
So a communication error occurs between your auditory and visual systems. Your brain concludes it has been poisoned. Not so smart, after all?
In this situation, the brain decides to empty the stomach in order to get rid of any toxic chemicals that you have supposedly digested. This is why a large number of people feel nauseous on long journeys.
Morning sickness or nausea and vomiting of pregnancy can make you feel antsy and ill at ease. It is most common during the first trimester of pregnancy when your body is naively trying to deal with the flood of hormones your mind is stimulating.
Basically, when you are expecting, your body undergoes a complete revolution. All your systems alter to some extent. There are mechanical, physical and hormonal changes taking place. Your ovaries secrete a considerable amount of progesterone. There are other hormones like oxytocin, prolactin, and estrogen being produced. Your appetite and cardiac output both increase. As a result, your body has a hard time dealing with these sudden changes. So pregnant ladies feel an involuntary urge to vomit especially during the first few months. This urge is particularly strong during the morning.
Gastroparesis is a serious, chronic stomach issue. The muscles of your stomach are paralyzed beyond repair and can’t contract properly. Hence, the food doesn’t move to the small intestine. Unfortunately, it is not even digested. This stomach illness comes with its own set of tasteless symptoms one of which is nausea. Your stomach can’t process the food you are eating. Therefore, it will feel full very soon during a meal and will jettison it contents not long after. A person with gastroparesis will experience nausea, vomiting, uneasiness, metabolic disturbance and general weakness.
People who suffer from Diabetes Type II are also at risk of gastroparesis and subsequently nausea.
Acute severe dizziness / Vertigo
Vertigo is a state of dizziness where you feel uncomfortable and nervy. You lose a sense of your surroundings and feel confused. Bouts of vertigo can be sudden and surprising. They would make you wonder what you did to suffer so much. They may be Central or peripheral but peripheral vertigo is more common. Also, some diseases have vertigo as a sign of Meniere’s disease.
Some people have the misfortune of having prolonged experiences with dizziness on a regular basis. These people may vomit occasionally and need to see a doctor. Doctors usually prescribe medications to treat nausea and vertigo.
Excessive Consumption Of Alcohol
If you have just stepped into the colorful world of drinking as I have, you might have noticed how often people throw up after drinking. Why does drinking lead to vomiting? Actually, when you are taking alcohol, it is quickly incorporated into your blood supply. That is why you continue getting drunk even after you have stopped drinking. But if you drink a bit too much and by a bit, we mean more than five glasses over the course of two hours, you will soon be bent over the toilet. Because excessive drinking erodes the stomach lining, it becomes impossible for your stomach to digest food. Clinically, this condition is called gastritis. Your brain feels poisoned by alcohol and reverses peristalsis is initiated.
So avoid binge drinking or drinking on an empty stomach. Both can lead to gastric motility and severe nausea.
Anxiety and Nausea
A friend of mine, who is an award-winning orator, was telling me the other day how he always visits the toilet before stepping on stage. Not to pee – but to puke. Whether it be outside an exam hall or confessing a major blunder to our parents, we have all vomited at some point or other to deal with stressful situations. Stress and anxiety are often precursors of nausea and vomiting. Why is that?
Because our brains activate the parasympathetic system while we are tense. The hormone adrenaline is released in excess. And guess what, this is the same chemical secreted when we vomit. Get the connection?
Serious Chronic Diseases
Nausea is a common consequence of some fatal disorders like heart attack, Brain Tumor, and Stroke. You feel nauseous when your stomach either stops contracting or contracts faster than normal. Some medical specialists say that during an episode of nausea, your stomach can contract three to ten times faster. Heart attack results from a similar mechanism when the cardiac output rises too much. Although the commonest sign of heart attack in both men and women is chest pain, most women also present with lightheadedness and nausea. They feel stomach malaise and discomfort. The same goes for cerebral disorders like stroke and Brain Tumor.
Food Poisoning And Nausea
Besides abdominal pain and cramps, the commonest symptoms of food poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea. Because the food you have eaten is unhealthy and thus unacceptable by your stomach, it tends to relieve itself of this contaminated food. This usually occurs within one to two days of eating food rich in germs. Thus, you will have an upset stomach that will also upset your mood. You will feel a strong desire to throw up (Nausea) and experience stomach disturbances (Diarrhea)
Drug Side effects and Nausea
You take medicines to alleviate suffering but sometimes they add to it. There are some medications that have nausea and dizziness as a side effect. These medicines include:
- Erythromycin (Erythrocin)
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs)
- Pain meds
What happens is that some meds like Vicodin stimulate the same part of the brain that controls vomiting. As a result, you feel queasy or seasick after taking pain medications.
Some other diseases whose medications have nausea as a side effect are Parkinson’s disease and arthritis. Chemotherapy is notorious for causing nausea. Similarly, NSAIDs irritate the stomach lining and antidepressants stimulate indigestion.
An American pharmacist sums it up quite accurately that, “Nausea is one of the most common causes of medications we hear about.”
You feel dehydrated when the systems of your body are low on water supply. Even your urine has lesser volume and is more yellowish than normal. You feel thirsty and your mouth goes dry. As most of the reactions within the body occur in an aqueous medium, you feel exhausted and sleepy. Another major sign of dehydration is nausea. You are more likely to experience dizziness and frequent headaches when you are dehydrated. Actually, in a way, dehydration is the consequence of diarrhea, vomiting and viral infections.
Symptoms Of Nausea (A Misunderstanding)
Although it is one of the most looked-up queries related to nausea, we would like to clarify that nausea is not a disease but a sign of many other diseases. And therefore, it doesn’t have any signs or symptoms. It is an indicator that assists doctors in diagnosing other illnesses like food poisoning and stroke.
Nausea During Pregnancy
Up to 7 out of 10 women experience nausea in pregnancy. Its cause is unknown. However, it is suggested that high levels of pregnancy hormones like hCG cause nausea. Psychological derangements could be another possible cause. A study conducted on 2400 women indicated a reduced risk of pregnancy loss in women who experience dizziness. But this claim is not supported by scientific evidence.
Estrogen and stress hormones like cortisol also contribute to morning sickness.
B6 deficiency is another theory put forward by experts.
Usually, it subsides between 14 to 16 weeks but may continue throughout pregnancy.
Being a normal and natural problem it cannot be eliminated but can be controlled by decreased stress levels, well hydration and a balanced diet.
Home Remedies For Nausea
Nausea is so common that over the course of human history, our ancestors came up with a number of remedial measures to get rid of nausea quickly and effectively. here we will discuss some convenient home remedies to combat nausea:
Home Remedies/Preventive Measure
The Magic Of Ginger
- Although it is not backed by scientific reasoning, ginger has been used for centuries for its soothing effects. You can also try ginger in various forms like ginger ale, ginger powder, and even ginger capsules. You can juice it up on the stove and sip it from your tea mug. That is how user-friendly ginger is. It will also ward off any dizziness or nausea you feel.
Regular Intake Of Vitamin B6
- Proteins and vitamin B6 can also stimulate the stomach walls to contract normally.
The Right Way To Take Pills
- Nausea is also a common side effect of some pain meds. So always complement your tablets with a light snack or a glass of warm milk before going to bed.
- Avoid moving when you feel light-headed. Keep seated calmly and try to keep it together.
The Right Time To Take Multivitamins
- Don’t take multivitamins and other prescription drugs on an empty stomach. In fact, take them right after or along with breakfast.
Gradual Withdrawal From Coffee
- An extremely rare but reported cause of nausea is coffee withdrawal or cutting down any beverage intake. We recommend that you cut down gradually and not all at once.
Acupressure As An Effective Curative Tool
- Wrist acupressure is an age-old technique employed by the Chinese to cure anxiety and nausea. You can perform the procedure yourself simply placing your thing just below your wrist crease and pressing softly. If you have frequent and acute attacks of nausea, then you can also buy acupressure wristbands from your local drugstore. Also, wrist acupressure is particularly useful for combating motion sickness.
Since nausea is a usually a symptom of an underlying disease, the clinical practice is to hunt the cause down and treat that first. But some people feel so nauseous that they experience inexplicable discomfort. Hence, the doctors are bound to suggest some drugs, like:
These antinausea drugs are collectively termed as Antiemetics.
By definition, nausea is the feeling you have right before you vomit. You have an upset stomach and a moody brain. Dizziness, stomach malaise, discomfort, and vertigo are conditions that co-occur with nausea. It is usually a sign of some hidden disease like heart attack and cancer. Chemotherapy is notorious for causing severe nausea. It may occur as a mild, short-term illness or may be prolonged and agonizing. Besides ginger and peppermint tea, some medications and acupressure may also prove fruitful in curing nausea.
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