Several conditions can cause nausea, including stress, anxiety, infections, and motion sickness. Nausea often resolves independently, and home remedies can often reduce symptom severity.
Nausea is a sensation that makes a person feel they need to vomit. Sometimes, individuals with nausea do vomit, but not always.
In this article, we explore what triggers nausea, including a list of 12 common causes. We will also discuss some of these conditions in more detail and describe their symptoms and treatments.
There are many triggers for nausea. Some
Food poisoning or stomach flu
Symptoms may include:
- stomach pain or cramping
Food poisoning occurs when a person ingests food or drink containing a virus, toxin, or bacterium, such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli. Gastrointestinal viruses, such as norovirus or rotavirus, can transmit in the same way. However, close contact with other affected persons can increase transmission risk.
Flu and COVID-19
Other types of viral infections can also trigger nausea, such as flu and COVID-19.
A 2021 review found that out of 6,335 people with COVID-19,
People with flu can also have many of these symptoms. Nausea is
A range of digestive disorders can induce nausea,
- Gastritis: Acid or a bacterium called H. pylori often cause inflammation of the stomach, which can lead to stomach ulcers.
- Gastroparesis: With this condition, the stomach empties much slower than it should. Certain medications or nerve damage usually cause this, which is common in people with diabetes.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease: Triggers chronic acid reflux and indigestion.
- IBS: Causes stomach cramping, along with diarrhea or constipation.
- Celiac disease: An autoimmune condition that causes symptoms in response to gluten.
- Gallbladder conditions: Includes issues such as gallstones.
- Pancreas conditions: Includes issues such as pancreatitis.
The diagnosis and treatment for digestive disorders vary depending on the cause. They may involve a combination of medications, dietary or lifestyle changes, or in some cases, medical procedures.
Mental health conditions
Mental health and digestive health are closely linked. People with mental health conditions can experience digestive symptoms, including nausea. Similarly, stress can also exacerbate digestive conditions.
Inner ear conditions
The vestibular system resides in the inner ear, helping the body retain a sense of balance and know where it is relative to its surroundings. Issues with this system can cause dizziness or vertigo, which in turn causes nausea.
Conditions that may cause this include:
- Motion sickness: Occurs in response to conflicting signals of movement sent to the brain. Riding in cars, planes, or boats often triggers this.
- Labyrinthitis: An inner ear infection that can occur following a cold or flu.
- Vestibular neuritis: Occurs when the nerve inside the inner ear becomes inflamed.
Nausea is a common symptom during pregnancy. It is often known as morning sickness, although it can occur anytime. It may also develop suddenly or gradually.
Pregnant people may experience nausea when around certain foods or smells or when they are hungry. Generally, morning sickness improves after 14 weeks.
The thyroid gland controls hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism.
Doctors often treat these conditions with medication, which can also cause nausea as a side effect.
There are many ways in which changes in the brain and nervous system can cause nausea. Scientists
One of the most common neurological conditions that triggers nausea is migraine. This is a disorder that causes episodes of moderate-to-severe headache, along with nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms.
Medication side effect
Nausea is a common side effect of many medications, including:
- OTC pain medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen
- certain supplements, such as iron
Medications work by changing chemical processes in the brain and body. For example, neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine,
Medication-related nausea and vomiting can be constant or occur at random intervals. It usually starts shortly after taking a new medication. Speak with a doctor if medicines could be causing nausea.
What helps people manage nausea can vary depending on the cause. For general nausea relief, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) suggests:
- getting fresh air
- eating small, frequent meals
- staying hydrated by sipping cold drinks, such as water or juice
- drinking ginger or peppermint tea
- eating foods that contain ginger
- avoiding spicy, strong-smelling, or greasy foods
People who experience nausea because of stress or anxiety may also find breathing techniques, relaxation training, or mindfulness exercises helpful.
If a person frequently experiences nausea for no clear reason, they can consider speaking with a doctor to determine the cause. If the cause is psychological, speaking with a therapist may help.
Nausea is not usually an emergency. However, if it occurs alongside symptoms of a serious condition or after an injury, someone may need emergency help. Dial 911 if someone experiences nausea:
- after a recent head injury
- alongside a severe, sudden headache
- with neck stiffness, fever, headache, and vomiting
In some cases, nausea can be an early warning sign of a heart attack. This is
- pain, pressure, or squeezing in the center of the chest
- trouble breathing
- pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, or jaw
- a cold sweat
There are many potential causes of nausea. In most cases, it is not a sign of a serious illness. Many conditions that trigger nausea are treatable or temporary.
Speak with a doctor about chronic or recurring nausea, as there may be ways to reduce this symptom and improve quality of life.