Nausea is the feeling you get when you’re about to be sick (as in vomit). Sometimes it leads to vomiting, but not always. The best way to describe it is as an uncomfortable feeling in your throat and stomach, where you feel an urge to vomit.
It can be caused by a range of things, like migraines, food poisoning, viruses, being pregnant, and some people get it when they travel by boat, car or air (travel or motion sickness). Nausea can also be a side effect of treatment like chemotherapy.
Who gets nausea?
Anyone can get nausea, and most people will get it at least once. Sometimes we know the cause and other times it can happen unexpectedly.
If you have migraines with ‘aura’, nausea can be a symptom. You might get nausea during the first few weeks of being pregnant (this is called morning sickness). Nausea can also happen if you get ‘travel sick’ when in a moving car or boat (this is also called motion sickness).
How common is nausea?
It’s common to get it occasionally, particularly in situations that can trigger it; for example being on a moving boat, or having a virus or a stomach bug. Because it can be caused by so many different things, and can often be transient, it’s not really possible to estimate how often it happens. (A lot of the time people will get it, it will pass, and they won’t need to tell a doctor about it.)
It’s very common to get morning sickness (which causes nausea and vomiting) during the early stages of pregnancy. Estimates of how common it is vary, from 50% to 70% .
Nausea is more common in people taking certain treatments or with specific medical conditions. For example, if you’re having chemotherapy then you’re more likely to have nausea as a side effect. Some medicines for pain relief like ibuprofen and paracetamol can also cause nausea.
It’s estimated that about 5-10% of people with COVID-19 get gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea.
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What causes nausea?
The feeling of nausea is caused by a transmission of signals from a sensory part of your body (like the eyes or nose) to the brain. There is a trigger zone in your brain called the chemoreceptor, of the CTZ. This receives and interprets messages sent from the body which are carried by neurotransmitters, which are then passed to the vomiting centre in your brain, which leads to the feeling of sickness.
Can nausea lead to other problems?
Generally speaking, nausea is an unpleasant feeling but it's typically harmless. It can result in vomiting, and vomiting a lot can lead to dehydration. So it’s important to replenish your fluids if you’re being sick.
Sometimes the thing that’s causing nausea may be harmful. If you’re getting regular feelings of nausea and you’re unsure what’s causing it then you should seek treatment. There may be an underlying condition that needs attention.
What medications are there for nausea?
There are a lot of different types of anti-nausea medication, including antihistamines and anticholinergic agents. They work in a broadly similar way to treat nausea, but contain different ingredients.
Nausea treatment usually works by interrupting the passage of nausea signals, or your brain's interpretations of them. These drugs usually work on receptors in the vomiting sector of the brain, making them less sensitive to chemical messages. This helps to stop the chemical transmission which causes the uncomfortable feeling, relieving symptoms of nausea.
There are other treatments for nausea that work in the gut to help food move through it faster. If you use these, you’ll normally only take them short term, and they’re better for nausea being caused by digestive issues or migraine.
Is there a ‘best’ treatment for nausea?
Not as such. There are a few different treatments available for nausea. The type that will work best depends on a number of factors, like how severe your nausea is and what’s causing it.
Dopamine blocking treatments can help to treat nausea caused by medication, morning sickness or vertigo. Antihistamines can be helpful for nausea caused by travel sickness. Anticholinergics are useful for nausea caused by problems in the gut.
If you’re not sure which treatment is best for you, we can help you find the right option.
Does nausea always need treatment?
Not always. Avoiding triggers can help to reduce nausea. For example, if you know you suffer from motion sickness, then it can help not to read while in a moving car. If you get nausea associated with migraine, taking steps to limit the risk of migraine can help. It depends on what your migraine triggers are, but this might be making sure you get enough sleep, or avoiding specific foods that you know cause them.
But nausea treatment can help if your symptoms are brought on by something unavoidable, like travelling, morning sickness or a certain type of medication. You should get medical advice if you continually get nausea with no obvious cause.
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Are there different types of nausea?
The feeling of nausea itself is quite distinct, but there are different causes. For example, food poisoning tends to lead to both nausea and vomiting. This type of nausea can come on suddenly and be quite severe.
Nausea you get with a migraine might not lead to vomiting, but persist for a while. Travel sickness can cause nausea but this might come on more slowly, and not result in vomiting.
Can you get side effects from nausea treatment?
Nausea treatment can cause side effects. Drowsiness is a common side effect that you can get with several different types. Others might cause headaches, constipation or insomnia. Most of the time, side effects pass fairly quickly and aren’t harmful. But if you do get side effects when using nausea treatment, it’s important to let the person who prescribed medication for you know.
If you’re concerned about side effects or have had them before when using nausea treatment, we can help you find a solution that works for you.
Why should I buy nausea treatment online with Treated?
We’ll give you personalised advice on nausea treatment. Talk to us about your symptoms, and we’ll suggest the treatments we think will work best for you. You’ll get to choose the option that suits you best, and ask us any questions you have. You’ll also get access to our experts to get any further advice you need afterwards, and we’ll check in with you to see how your treatment is going.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a doctor.
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