7 Reasons You’re Feeling Nauseous

7 Reasons You’re Feeling Nauseous

We all know the feeling. A sour stomach, sometimes mixed in with some lightheadedness and dizziness, and that feeling that you might puke your guts out at any second. Not only is it not pleasant, but feeling nauseous can be embarrassing. Not to mention disturbing if it’s a regular occurrence.

According to Christine Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic, there are a number of reasons you may feel like you’re “always” nauseous. The first thing you should determine is if it’s mild and temporary—it comes and goes without intensity and needing any intervention. “If you find yourself frequently experiencing nausea that doesn’t resolve itself quickly and persists, you should get it checked out to get to the root of the problem,” she says. “Symptoms such as vomiting blood, inability to keep anything, including water and saliva, down, high fevers, intense pain and shortness of breath are definitely causes for concern.” Meaning, get to a doctor now.

But if you’re not vomiting and you frequently feel nauseous, discover some potential causes and when you should seek professional help.

1) You started taking a new medication

Nausea can sometimes be a side effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen, so consult your doctor if this is the case and to see if switching to another painkiller or anti-inflammatory might be a safer bet for you.

2) You’ve had anesthesia or chemotherapy

If you’ve just had surgery and are loaded up on pain medications or narcotics, or you’ve been receiving chemotherapy as cancer treatment, nausea is a common side effect you should be aware of, Dr. Lee says. Don’t hesitate to talk to your medical team about what to expect.

“Nausea and vomiting is very common when you wake up after having received anesthesia, so your provider should ask if you have this history and provide you with anti-nausea medications beforehand, if necessary,” she says.

3) You have a balance disorder, or you’ve been sick

Balance disorders such as vertigo, labyrinthitis, and vestibular neuronitis are commonly accompanied by nausea, Dr. Lee says. In this case, getting to the root of the problem can help you manage your nausea.

You may also experience feelings of nausea after a cold or other upper respiratory tract infection. Even a lack of sleep could bring it on.

4) You have motion sickness

“If you experience motion sickness where repeated motions such as with riding on a boat or experiencing turbulence on a flight, or even when moving on a rollercoaster or a car ride, you should still talk to your doctor,” Dr. Lee says.

Persistent nausea could be related to inflammation; it’s worth seeing a gastroenterologist to see if this is the case. If you’re otherwise fine and experiencing common motion sickness, “you might find ensuring you’re well-hydrated can help you get to the root of the problem and possibly avoid it in the future.”

5) You have underlying medical conditions

No surprise here that nausea can be tied to a digestive or gastrointestinal disorder, such as gastroparesis, gastritis, PUD (peptic ulcer disease), GERD (gastrosophageal reflux disease), inflammatory diseases, pancreatic disorders (such as pancreatitis or gallstones), intestinal obstruction (such as constipation, bowel obstruction or appendicitis), Dr. Lee says.

Similarly, other more rare but serious causes can be vascular disorders such as heart artery blockages blood clots, or a brain-related issue such as meningitis or a hemorrhage.

Finally, hyper- or hypoglycemia (too high or too low blood sugar), DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), dehydration, and heat stroke can also be contributing causes of nausea. If you are really always nauseous, meaning it’s frequent and recurring, you want to see a doctor to rule out these serious conditions.

6) You’re extremely hungry

It may seem counterintuitive that being hungry could bring you the point of wanting to puke, but it’s fairly common, as allowing yourself to get extremely hungry can lead your body to feel overwhelmed by the buildup of stomach acid, Dr. Lee says.

In an effort to constantly be “on” for work, it can be easier than you think to skip breakfast, lunch or a snack. Similarly, not properly fueling for a workout can make you have to stop exercising because of feelings of nausea, dizziness or lightheadedness. Don’t skimp on a pre-workout snack, especially if you’re going to get your sweat on later in the day.

7) You have symptoms of anxiety

Acute stress situations and the feelings of nervousness, stress, and fear you have can bring on butterflies in your stomach or even nausea, Dr. Lee says. It would be great if you could control the stress, but that’s easier to say than to do. To take down the nausea, make sure you’re properly hydrated and fed. Keeping caffeine to a minimum can also help avoid feeling nausea.

The bottom line on frequent nausea

Because the range of reasons you feel nauseous all the time is so wide, it’s important to focus not just on the symptoms, but to know all of the possibilities.

If you have unexplained nausea—it’s not because you’re hungry, tired, or carsick, for instance—and it’s frequent, you should get it checked out by a doctor. “The earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis and outcome, so the message we want to send is to seek medical attention to make sure it’s not anything serious,” Dr. Lee says.

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