Symptoms, causes and other risk factors of nausea

nausea symptoms

Nausea is a general term which is describing a queasy stomach with or without the feeling that you are about to vomit. Almost every single person experiences nausea at some point of his life which is making it one of the most common problems that is discovered in the medicine. This is not a disease. It is a symptom of many different disorders. In the most cases the queasy feeling lasts no more than minutes to a few hours and usually it goes away on its own within 24 hours.

Symptoms of Nausea

This condition is difficult for many people to describe. It is a very, but not painful, feeling that you felt in the back of your throat, your chest or your upper abdomen. This feeling is associated with an urge to vomit or with distaste for food. When your body prepares to vomit, then these following sequences can happen:

  • The lower portion of stomach contracts
  • The windpipe (larynx) closes
  • The abdominal muscles and diaphragm contract
  • The muscular ring between the esophagus and stomach (esophageal sphincter) relaxes

When some individual vomits, then the stomach contents are expelled through the mouth and esophagus. As a result of these body actions, when you suffer from nausea you experience retching (which is repeated rhythmic contractions of abdominal and respiratory muscles which occur without our control). You may vomit or you may not. In some cases nausea is accompanied by profuse sweating.

Causes for nausea

Nausea can be caused by problems in any of three parts of our bodies which are including:

  • Balance centers in your inner ear: Nausea can be related to vertigo. Vertigo is a dizzy sensation of falling, moving or spinning when you are not moving. The most common conditions which are causing nausea are: sensitivity to position change (benign positional vertigo), certain brain or nerve tumors, viral infections of the inner ear (labyrinthitis) and motion sickness (triggered by repeated movements in different directions inside a car, boat, train, plane or amusement ride). [1]
  • Abdominal and pelvic organs: There are many different abdominal conditions which can lead to nausea. The most common abdominal causes are including gallbladder problems; inflammation of the kidney; appendix or pelvic organs; intestinal lining; irritation of the stomach, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux); a blocked or stretched intestine or stomach; pancreas (pancreatitis) and inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). The most common abdominal illnesses that can result in nausea or gastroenteritis (viral infections). Normal menstruation and constipation also can be cause. [2]


  • Brain and spinal fluid: It is common with meningitis (inflammation or infection of the membranes covering the brain), bleeding into or around the brain, stroke, brain tumors, head injury and migraine headaches. Also it can be a symptom of glaucoma which is resulting from pressure on the nerves at the back of the eye. In some cases it is a brain reaction triggered by unpleasant odors or sights, significant emotional distress and pain. [3]

This is also a common side effect of some chemical changes in our bodies such as

  • Food allergies and food poisoning: When there is a food poisoning, then there is a small amount of bacteria in contaminated food that is producing irritating toxins which can cause abdominal cramps and nausea. [4]
  • Anesthesia: There are some people who experience nausea while awakening from surgery and recovering from anesthesia. [5]
  • Alcohol use: Alcohol withdrawal and alcohol intoxication, including a hangover, can cause nausea. [6]
  • Low blood sugar: People who have low blood sugar in the most cases are having nausea. [7]
  • Reproductive hormones: There are fifty percent of women who experience morning sickness during their first few months of pregnancy and also it is a very common side effect of birth control pills. [8]
  • Medications: There are many medicines (including herbal, over – the – counter and prescription medicines) which in many cases creates this as a side effect, especially when people take more than one medication at the same time. Antidepressants are chemotherapy drugs are one of the most common medicines that cause nausea. [9,10]


[1] Strupp M, Brandt T. Diagnosis and treatment of vertigo and dizziness. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. 2008;105(10):173–80.

[2] Getto L, Zeserson E, Breyer M. Vomiting, Diarrhea, Constipation, and Gastroenteritis. Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America. 2011;29(2):211–37.

[3] Singh P, Yoon SS, Kuo B. Nausea: a review of pathophysiology and therapeutics. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 2016;9(1):98–112.

[4] Mohd Yusof AM, Rahman NAA, Haque M. Knowledge, attitude, and practice toward food poisoning among food handlers and dietetic students in a public Uuniversity in Malaysia. Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences. 2018;10(4):232–9.

[5] Rusch D, Eberhart LHJ, Wallenborn J, Kranke P. Nausea and vomiting after surgery under general anesthesia: An evidence-based review concerning risk assessment, prevention, and treatment. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. 2010;107(42):733–41.

[6] Verster JC. The alcohol hangover–a puzzling phenomenon. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2008;43(2):124-6.

[7] Kalra S, Mukherjee JJ, Venkataraman S, et al. Hypoglycemia: The neglected complication. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2013;17(5):819–34.

[8] Matchock RL, Levine ME, Gianaros PJ, Stern RM. Susceptibility to nausea and motion sickness as a function of the menstrual cycle. Womens Health Issues. 2008;18(4):328–35.

[9] Singh P, Yoon SS, Kuo B. Nausea: a review of pathophysiology and therapeutics. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 2016;9(1):98–112.

[10] Furyk JS, Meek RA, Egerton‐Warburton D. Drugs for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in adults in the emergency department setting. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015;2015(9):CD010106.


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