Nausea is the sensation of an urge to vomit. It can be both a short-lived and prolonged feeling. If left untreated, it can be debilitating to everyday life.

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What is Nausea?

Nausea is the feeling or sensation of an urge to vomit. It can be both short-lived or prolonged. When the feeling of nausea is prolonged or becomes a chronic issue, it can be debilitating and feel like it’s taking over your day-to-day life. Nausea can be a psychological or physical issue and can originate from brain-related problems or your esophagus, stomach, small intestine, or liver. 

Symptoms of Nausea

Symptoms of nausea can oftentimes be difficult for people to describe as it’s more an uncomfortable feeling rather than something painful in a specific area of the body. However, when nausea symptoms are present, the discomfort generally occurs in the back of the throat, chest, or upper abdomen.

Nausea symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Dizziness

  • Diarrhea

  • Fever

  • Gas

  • Lightheadedness

  • Vomiting

  • Stomach cramps

Usually, those experiencing feelings of nausea have a general feeling of being sick to the stomach. 

What Causes Nausea?

Many things can cause a person to feel nauseous, and unfortunately, nausea can strike just about anywhere. Most people associate nausea with what they ate last and will do their best to pinpoint what could have caused such internal discomfort. Other people’s minds go straight to who they were in contact with last and hope to the powers that be that they weren’t sick or coming down with something. 

The most common causes of nausea can include:

  • Anxiety - When you’re in the midst of an anxiety or panic attack, your body goes into its “fight or flight” mode, where adrenaline is pumped into your bloodstream, which can often lead to chemical signals reaching your brain, sparking the sensation of nausea. 

  • Pregnancy - Many women experience nausea during pregnancy. In fact, it can be an early indicator of pregnancy.

  • PMS - Women can experience feeling nauseous a few days before their period is set to come. 

  • Heartburn or GERD - Experiencing heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause the contents of your stomach to move back up into your esophagus when you eat. 

  • Medications - Certain medications can upset your stomach or list nausea as a side effect. It’s important to read the labels as closely as possible. 

  • Motion sickness - Being in the backseat of a car or on a boat can often lead a person to feel motion sickness. Especially if the ride is bumpy, this can cause a disconnection in the brain's transmitted message, leading to dizziness, nausea, or vomiting. 

  • Diet - If you’ve ever had one too many chicken wings, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. Overeating or eating certain foods, such as spicy or foods high in fat, can upset the stomach and cause nausea.

  • Infection or virus - Bacteria can affect the stomach and lead to a nauseous feeling. Viral infections, like the flu or common cold, can also lead to a person feeling nauseous.  

Nausea can also be a symptom of other medical conditions, including:

  • Vertigo

  • Migraines

  • Ear Infections

  • Heart Attack

  • Meningitis

  • Intestinal blockage

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Nausea can be both mild and severe. It is recommended If you’re experiencing mild symptoms such as motion sickness or know your nausea is just an adverse effect of eating too much ice cream, you will most likely be A-OK the following day, especially if you are sure to stay hydrated. 

However, if you’re experiencing more severe symptoms or are having prolonged feelings of vomiting, it is recommended that you seek medical attention right away. 

According to the American Heart Association, you should seek immediate medical help if your nauseous feelings are accompanied by heart attack symptoms, including intense headaches, jaw pain, profuse sweating, crushing chest pain, or intense pain in your left arm.