Nausea is the feeling of needing to vomit. Various medications are available for treating nausea, including antiemetics and antihistamines. Eating different foods or changing other dietary habits may also help relieve nausea.
This article discusses medications and home remedies for nausea.
Antiemetics are drugs that treat nausea or vomiting. The appropriate type of antiemetic will depend on the cause of these symptoms.
Several broad classes of antiemetics are useful for treating nausea:
|Class||Action||Possible side effects||Examples|
|Serotonin receptor antagonists||Block serotonin receptors. Useful for nausea from gastrointestinal issues, medications (including cancer treatments), or operations.||Headaches, dizziness, constipation||Ondansetron, granisetron|
|Antihistamines||Block histamine receptors. Useful for nausea from disorientation or an operation.||Sleepiness, dry mouth, blurred vision||Diphenhydramine, meclizine, promethazine|
|Dopamine antagonist||Block dopamine receptors. Useful for nausea from migraine headaches, gastrointestinal issues, or operations.||Tiredness, dizziness, increased heart rate||Prochlorperazine, chlorpromazine|
|Anticholinergics||Block muscarinic receptors. Useful for nausea from disorientation.||Dry mouth, vision problems, drowsiness||Scopolamine|
|Neurokinin antagonists||Block neurokinin receptors. Useful for nausea from cancer treatment.||Headaches, dizziness, fatigue||Aprepitant, fosaprepitant|
|Glucocorticoids||Mimic the actions of steroids in the body. Useful for nausea from cancer treatment or operations.||Insomnia, excitation, mood changes||Dexamethasone|
|Benzodiazepines||Stimulate GABA receptors. Useful for nausea from cancer treatments or operations.||Drowsiness, confusion, dizziness||Lorazepam|
|Cannabinoids||Activate cannabinoid receptors. Useful for nausea from cancer treatment.||Vertigo, low blood pressure, low mood||Tetrahydrocannabinol, |
Different eating patterns and some foods may help alleviate nausea.
If someone regularly feels nauseated, they could implement some of the following eating habits to help reduce nausea:
- eating regular, small meals
- sticking with cold or warm temperature foods
- rinsing the mouth before and after eating
- sitting upright for at least an hour after eating
- eating in a cool room
- sticking to dry foods
- eating poultry or soy-based foods
- avoiding spicy, greasy, or fried foods
- sticking to bland, soft foods, such as a poached egg on toast
- avoiding foods with a strong smell
Some diets can also help reduce nausea.
For example, the foods that make up the BRAT diet could help ease nausea as they are easy to digest. These foods, which give the diet its name, are:
However, due to the restrictive nature of the BRAT diet, a person should be mindful of the number of nutrients they are consuming. This diet is not a long-term solution, and people should only follow it when they feel nauseated.
If nausea lasts for more than a few days while a person is following the BRAT diet, they should contact a doctor.
Some herbs may also alleviate nausea. A 2015 study suggested that ginger could be a promising treatment for nausea and vomiting. However, the researchers note that more research is necessary to support these findings.
Nausea and vomiting are common during pregnancy. However, some pregnant people experience severe sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum. Those who find that the sickness affects their day-to-day life and becomes a cause for concern might need treatment.
People need to be cautious about most treatments during pregnancy, including those for nausea, as side effects could harm them or the fetus. For example, ondansetron can prevent nausea, but researchers remain unsure whether it affects the fetus.
Metoclopramide is one first-line treatment option for people who are pregnant. Antihistamines such as doxylamine are also an effective medication for treating pregnancy-related nausea, and they do not harm the fetus.
Aromatherapy can involve diffusing essential oils into the air to produce aromas that a person then inhales. Proponents of aromatherapy suggest that it may reduce nausea.
A small 2016 study that included 123 participants found that inhaling peppermint oil could reduce feelings of nausea following an operation.
However, a comprehensive 2018 review noted that there is not enough quality research to confirm aromatherapy as an effective remedy for nausea.
Research investigating the antinausea properties of aromatherapy is mixed, and researchers need to conduct more robust studies to understand if and how essential oils exert these effects.
However, some individuals may wish to try using aromatherapy alongside nausea medication to see whether it helps them feel better.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves using needles to apply pressure to specific points on the body to relieve pain and relax muscles.
Acupressure is similar, but instead of using needles to stimulate points on the body, a person just applies pressure using their fingers or thumb.
Some research suggests that acupuncture could help alleviate nausea. For example, a 2013 review observed that acupuncture could treat nausea and vomiting following an operation. The review noted that stimulating pressure point 6 (P6, or Nei Guan) was particularly effective in reducing nausea.
If a person wants to try acupressure, they can find P6 below the wrist by the inner arm. Applying pressure with a thumb or the fingers for 2–3 minutes may help someone feel less nauseated.
However, a 2015 review noted that the evidence supporting the effectiveness of P6 stimulation in alleviating nausea is weak and that more robust studies are necessary.
Therefore, it is advisable to try antinausea medication or dietary changes before trying this method.
Nausea is a common problem with many possible causes. Antiemetic drugs are medications that can prevent nausea.
The most suitable type of drug will depend on what is causing nausea. For example, during pregnancy, people are limited to medicines that healthcare professionals consider safe for the fetus.
People can also try various home remedies to see whether they help reduce nausea. These include eating and avoiding certain foods, adjusting the frequency of meals, aromatherapy, and acupressure.