A lack of sleep, poor diet, anxiety or stress can often cause a person to feel sick. However, it could also be a sign of pregnancy or chronic illness.
When sick, a person may experience stomach discomfort and vomiting. The medical term for this is nausea.
In this article, we look at the causes, symptoms, and treatments for a person feeling sick all the time.
A person may feel sick due to a short-term issue or as a result of a chronic condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2019, around
Below are some common reasons why someone might feel sick, plus their symptoms and how to treat each one.
- digestive disorders
- immune conditions
- chronic stress
- lack of sleep
- alcohol, drugs, and medications
Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections can all cause a person to feel sick. Food poisoning is a common reason that a person may feel sick.
However, infections can also spread through other means. People may be more at risk of catching an infection if they:
- work with children
- work in the healthcare industry
- live in close quarters with other people, such as in dormitories
- travel a lot or use public transportation frequently
Infections such as food poisoning will typically resolve independently with rest. If someone experiences vomiting or diarrhea due to infection, they must ensure they drink plenty of fluids.
A person can reduce their risk of infection through
- proper food preparation and storage
- frequent handwashing
- covering the face when close to someone with a contagious illness
- using hand sanitizers
Many common digestive disorders can cause a person to feel sick. These include:
- hiatal hernia
- stomach ulcers
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
The treatment of common digestive disorders will vary depending on the cause. However, most treatment plans will include a combination of lifestyle modifications and medication.
Autoimmune conditions weaken the immune system and make it easier to develop infections, colds, and flu. People with chronic immune conditions tend to feel sick more often and may take longer to recover from illnesses. More than
Common immune conditions that can make people feel sick include:
- celiac disease
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- type 1 diabetes
- multiple sclerosis
- Graves’ disease
Autoimmune conditions cause many symptoms, including fatigue, rashes, insomnia, and gastrointestinal problems.
The only way to treat symptoms related to an autoimmune condition is to seek medical treatment and monitoring for the condition.
Many people may not associate anxiety with feeling sick, but often it can make a person feel sick to their stomach.
A person with anxiety may feel nauseous or find that they get sick more often because their anxiety weakens their immune responses.
Other symptoms of anxiety
It is natural for people to experience anxiety. When a person feels anxious continuously, and this gets in the way of daily life, they may wish to talk with a doctor about anxiety disorders.
A person may have a specific anxiety disorder or a phobia if their anxiety is specific to certain situations, such as social contact or unhygienic places.
Anxiety and anxiety disorders are treatable. Possible options include:
- Lifestyle changes: Resolving the cause of anxiety, which may be lifestyle factors, relationships, drugs, or alcohol, may reduce symptoms.
- Psychotherapy: Talking therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT) are effective at treating many anxiety disorders.
- Medication: Doctors may prescribe medications such as beta-blockers to treat anxiety.
Stress is a natural response to a perceived threat. However, continual stress can affect the mind and body.
People with chronic or extreme stress can have many different symptoms, as stress affects the immune system, nervous system, hormones, and heart functioning.
Other symptoms of chronic stress can include:
- a lack of energy
- digestive problems, such as diarrhea and constipation
- insomnia, or difficulty sleeping
- muscle pain or stiffness
Treatment will start with identifying what stressors are causing the condition. From here, a person may be able to take steps to reduce the influence of these stressors. However, not all causes of stress are within a person’s control.
If possible, people may be able to reduce their exposure to stressors. However, this is not always possible. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help people manage their response to stressors.
Many traditional and alternative therapies exist to help manage or alleviate stress.
- resolving sources of conflict
- regular exercise
- practicing exercises for mindfulness and stress release, such as yoga
- seeking support
Lack of sleep
Proper, regular sleep is important for mental and physical health. Sleep deprivation can
Common symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation, or a lack of adequate sleep, include:
- stomach discomfort
- high blood pressure
- joint pain
- daytime sleepiness
- difficulty concentrating or completing tasks
- irritability and anxiety
- more frequent infections and longer healing time
Common ways to improve sleep deprivation include:
- develop a regular sleep schedule
- remove any sources of distraction from the bedroom
- treat conditions that hinder sleep, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and anxiety
- limit caffeine intake
Poor diet and dehydration
- feeling sick
- chronic fatigue and weakness
- dizziness or light-headedness
- difficulty concentrating
- poor immune health and extended healing time
- weight loss
If a person feels persistently dehydrated despite adequate fluid intake, they should visit their doctor
To treat and prevent malnutrition, people should eat a balanced diet rich in various nutrient-dense foods.
Alcohol, caffeine, drugs, or medications
Alcohol, caffeine, recreational drugs, and many prescription medications can affect a person’s physical health.
If a prescription medication is causing a person to feel sick, they should speak with their doctor to discuss alternatives or supplementary treatments.
In cases of caffeine, alcohol, and recreational drug use, reducing consumption or abstinence can often improve symptoms.
Seeking help for addiction may seem daunting or even scary, but several organizations can provide support. If you believe that you or someone close to you is struggling with addiction, you can contact the following organizations for immediate help and advice:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 800-662-4357 (TTY: 800-487-4889)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
People who always feel sick are more likely to have to skip work or school, or they may be less able to perform day-to-day activities. This is especially true when a person has a chronic condition.
Chronic conditions can also cause anxiety and interfere with activities that are important to good health, such as proper sleep, exercise, and socializing.
Though the specific complications depend on the cause, a person who feels sick all the time and whose symptoms do not improve may develop depression, anxiety, or fatigue.
Anyone who feels sick for more than a week or two should seek medical attention. A doctor can figure out the cause of the sickness and provide treatment.
A doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes or therapies that can reduce symptoms.
Talking with a doctor about prolonged sickness is also important so they can rule out or treat underlying medical conditions.
It is common for people to feel sick, and it is not a cause for concern. Symptoms are often self-limiting and may resolve independently or with minor home treatments.
However, feeling sick continuously can signal an underlying health condition. Treating these conditions will often resolve sickness symptoms.
People may feel sick due to medical conditions, environmental factors or unhealthy habits
Rest, adequate hydration, and dietary changes can treat many short-term causes of sickness. However, when symptoms result from a chronic condition, treating the underlying cause is necessary to resolve symptoms.