In this article we will look at:
- What is nausea?
- Why does nausea occur?
- What are the symptoms of nausea?
- How is nausea diagnosed?
- What are the complications of nausea?
- What is the treatment for nausea?
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What is nausea?
Nausea is the queasiness or uneasiness one feels in the stomach, just before one feels the urge to vomit.
This condition can be short-lived, from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes, or can be prolonged. If it is prolonged, it is incapacitating for the person and is a signal of a more serious condition festering underneath.
The uneasiness during nausea is usually felt in the upper abdomen, chest and back of the throat.
Why does nausea occur?
Nausea followed by vomiting is not a disease in itself, but the symptom of an underlying disorder, which can be physical or psychological. Nausea can also be a side effect of certain conditions, for example, chemical changes within the body. Very often the timing of nausea can reveal the cause.
Nausea can occur due to disorders such as:
- bulimia or binge eating disorder
- heart attack
- brain tumour
- particular forms of cancer
- gastroparesis or gradual stomach emptying in people suffering from diabetes
- food poisoning
- food allergies
- gallbladder disease
- liver problems
- menstruation cramps
- gastroesophageal reflux
- stomach irritation or irritation in the intestines, and intestinal lining
- problems in the appendix or pelvic organs
- viral infections
- infections of the ear
Nausea can also result from:
- brain injury
- mental and emotional stress (fear, anxiety)
- exposure to unpleasant sights or odours
It can be a side effect of :
- drinking excessive alcohol
- medications such as chemotherapy drugs and antidepressants
- low blood sugar
What are the symptoms of nausea? How is nausea diagnosed?
The symptoms of nausea may vary from person to person depending on the various disorders and triggering conditions. Some associated symptoms of nausea include:
- abdominal pain
- the feeling of discomfort in the chest, upper abdomen, and throat
- a feeling of being sick in the stomach
- a feeling of bloated stomach
- chest pain
- quickening of pulse
- breathing difficulty
- Excessive sweating
Depending on your medical history, and recent symptoms the doctor may advise you to undergo some tests such as blood tests, neurological tests, and also pregnancy tests if there are chances that you could be pregnant. The doctor will also check your blood pressure and do an abdominal examination if required.
For the proper diagnosis to be done, you need to mention to the doctor any emotional distress you may be experiencing, or any abnormal habits that you may have suddenly developed such as binge eating.
If you are a woman of childbearing age and are sexually active, you need to tell the doctor the last date of your menstrual period, as well as the kind of contraceptives you use, if you use any at all.
What are the complications of nausea?
Usually, nausea disappears by itself unless there is a chronic underlying condition associated with it.
Prolonged nausea and persistent vomiting could lead to:
- severe dehydration
- weight loss
- weak and brittle hair and nails
- decaying teeth
- tearing of the oesophagal mucosa, or the inner mucosal walls of the oesophagus leading to blood in vomit
aspiration pneumonitis due to aspiration of the stomach contents into the lungs
What is the treatment for nausea?
In most cases, nausea resolves by itself. If treatment is required, it would be for the underlying cause of nausea.
Depending on your condition the doctor may suggest intravenous fluids, and medications to stop persistent vomiting.
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Did you know?
Nausea is not always bad
In pregnant women, nausea and vomiting during the first trimester signifies you have a lower chance of miscarriage, according to a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. And for non-pregnant people, it is said that vomiting is a way to get an infection out of your system, so stopping it can prolong your illness. That said, if vomiting is severe and causing additional issues, such as dehydration, you may need anti-nausea medicines.
Now a barfing machine
Researchers at North Carolina State University have built a machine which helps them study the norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. A press release on the device stated that it looks like a "a glorified air compressor with a grotesque clay face." The barfing machine is aiding scientists to determine how the virus is transmitted.
Fear of vomiting - emetophobia
There is an official fear of vomiting, called emetophobia, and it's definitely not funny. People who have it experience paralyzing anxiety about their bodies, being around other ill people, and germs in general. Feeling sick or seeing someone else vomit can bring on a panic attack. Treatment is difficult and can take significant time.
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