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Nausea and diarrhea can occur together, and can be due to a number of illnesses and health issues. People can treat some of these causes at home, while others require more prompt medical treatment.

In this article, we explore some of the conditions that can cause nausea and diarrhea at the same time. We also examine when a person should seek medical help.

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Nausea and diarrhea are symptoms of a range of health issues.

Viral gastroenteritis is an infection of the intestines.

Although people may refer to it as stomach flu, this term is not medically correct as flu viruses do not cause this condition.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), several viruses can trigger viral gastroenteritis, but the most common is the norovirus.

Viral gastroenteritis is a contagious condition that generally appears after contact with someone already infected, or through contaminated food or water.

Symptoms

People who have viral gastroenteritis can experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • abdominal pain or cramping
  • headaches

Treatment

Viral gastroenteritis lasts less than a week, and most people get better on their own without treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no specific treatment. However, a person can take over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as loperamide (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) to help reduce diarrhea symptoms.

A person with viral gastroenteritis may also become dehydrated. People can help prevent this by:

  • drinking lots of fluids
  • taking oral electrolyte replacements
  • getting plenty of rest

Learn more about home remedies for viral gastroenteritis here.

Food poisoning is an illness that occurs when a person consumes food or drink that is contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. It affects millions of Americans each year.

According to the CDC, after a person consumes contaminated food or drink, symptoms can take some time to appear. In many cases, they develop after a few hours, and at other times it may take days.

Symptoms

Symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain and cramping
  • fever
  • vomiting

Treatment

A person can treat food poisoning in the following ways:

  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • consuming oral electrolyte replacements
  • getting plenty of rest
  • anti-vomiting medication, such as chlorpromazine and metoclopramide
  • antidiarrheal medicines, such as loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate

Learn more about treatment for food poisoning here.

Diverticulosis is when pouches form in the colon lining. The NIDDK state this usually causes no symptoms.

However, if these pouches become inflamed or infected, more severe symptoms arise, leading to diverticulitis.

Learn more about diverticulitis here.

Symptoms

Diverticulitis usually causes abdominal pain. However, other symptoms may include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • pain during urination
  • frequent urination
  • fever
  • bloody stools
  • constipation

Treatment

Treatment for diverticulitis includes:

  • eating a high-fiber diet
  • fiber supplements, such as methylcellulose (Citrucel) or psyllium (Metamucil)
  • antibiotics

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), a person may require surgery in rare cases.

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. When a person eats foods that contain gluten, it can trigger this condition.

According to the NIDDK, celiac disease can be severe and damaging to the small intestine, which may lead to long-term digestive issues. It can also prevent the body from absorbing nutrients from food.

This condition affects around 1 in 141 Americans.

Symptoms

Symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • gas
  • constipation
  • fatigue
  • mouth ulcers
  • sudden weight loss
  • abdominal pain and cramps
  • foul-smelling, pale, or fatty stools that float
  • bloating and a swelling feeling in the abdomen
  • anemia

Treatment

People with celiac disease should avoid consuming gluten. Once a person removes gluten from their diet, the intestines may heal, and symptoms will improve.

Learn more about celiac disease and diet here.

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas.

According to the NIDDK, around 275,000 people in the United States are hospitalized with acute pancreatitis each year.

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis is a short-term condition that occurs suddenly, while chronic pancreatitis is a long-term condition.

Symptoms

People with acute and chronic pancreatitis usually experience pain in the upper stomach that spreads to their back.

Both types of pancreatitis can cause nausea and diarrhea. However, their other symptoms can differ.

Learn more about the symptoms of acute pancreatitis here.

Learn more about the symptoms of chronic pancreatitis here.

Treatment

Treatment will usually take place in the hospital and will depend on the severity of pancreatitis.

Treatments include:

  • taking painkillers
  • managing dehydration
  • bowel rest, meaning the person with pancreatitis will not eat or drink orally until their condition improves
  • surgery

Appendicitis is the medical term for the swelling of the appendix. The condition causes the organ to enlarge, become inflamed, and fill with pus.

Symptoms

The first sign of appendicitis is stomach pain in the center of the abdomen. The pain then begins to move to the lower right-hand side. Additional symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • high temperature
  • difficulty passing gas
  • swollen stomach

If a person experiences abdominal pain that becomes progressively worse, they should seek medical help.

Treatment

In most cases, a surgeon will perform keyhole or open surgery to remove the appendix.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes the inflammation of the digestive tract. It belongs to a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

Symptoms

Crohn’s disease symptoms vary depending on which part of the gut the condition affects. However, the main symptoms are:

  • diarrhea
  • stomach aches and cramps
  • weight loss

Other symptoms can include:

  • blood in the stool
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • mouth ulcers
  • anemia
  • nausea

Treatment

Treatments for Crohn’s disease include:

  • anti-inflammatory drugs
  • steroids
  • antibiotics
  • immunosuppressants
  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • oral electrolyte replacements

Nausea and diarrhea can occur during pregnancy. While these may occur separately or together, they do not always indicate underlying health issues.

Nausea is a common condition during pregnancy, and people generally refer to it as morning sickness.

Diarrhea can also occur during pregnancy. It can occur due to hormonal changes or infections.

Learn more about diarrhea during pregnancy here.

Nausea and diarrhea during pregnancy may occur due to the pregnancy itself, or it could be symptoms of another condition.

Pregnancy-related causes of nausea

  • Morning sickness: This is common and tends to begin before week 9 of pregnancy. It typically disappears by week 14. Pregnant people can experience this at any time, while some may feel sick throughout the day.
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum: This is a severe type of morning sickness. It can last longer than common forms of nausea in pregnancy.

Treating pregnancy-related nausea

A person can try the following to alleviate the symptoms:

  • eating several small meals throughout the day, as opposed to three larger meals to avoid an empty stomach
  • avoiding lying down after eating
  • getting plenty of rest
  • drinking small amounts of water, weak tea, or clear soft drinks regularly
  • avoiding foods or smells that make the person nauseous
  • eating bland foods, such as bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and tea
  • eating ginger supplements to help settle a person’s stomach

Learn more about ways to relieve morning sickness here.

Nausea and diarrhea have many causes. If symptoms get worse or do not improve, then a person should see a doctor.

People should seek emergency medical help if they experience any symptoms of pancreatitis.

If any of the following people experience chronic nausea and diarrhea, they should seek medical help:

  • children
  • older adults
  • pregnant women

If adults show any of the following symptoms, they should seek immediate medical help:

  • signs of dehydration, such as dizziness or a dry mouth
  • severe vomiting
  • vomiting that lasts longer than 12 hours
  • diarrhea that lasts more than 2 days
  • becoming irritable
  • high fever
  • severe abdominal pain
  • stools that are black and tarry or contain blood or pus
  • heavy or constant rectal bleeding

Nausea and diarrhea are symptoms of a range of health issues. A person can typically treat nausea and diarrhea at home.

However, if a person’s symptoms are severe, or other serious symptoms appear, they should seek medical help.

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