Nausea: Sometimes Hard to Treat
Nausea can be due to a lot of different metabolic problems, often having something to do with the gastrointestinal tract, but not always. Chronic nausea is most likely to occur between the ages of 15 and 30. Pregnancy is a common reason for nausea—known as part of morning sickness. Sometimes people vomit with their nausea, sometimes not.
Common reasons for nausea: Low blood sugar, diabetes (diabetic ketoacidosis), pancreatitis, hepatitis and other liver diseases, gall stones and gall bladder disease, ulcer, overeating, bulimia, motion sickness, vertigo, appendicitis, small bowel obstruction, dehydration, a concussion or brain tumor, angina or heart disease or a heart attack, Addison’s disease and carbon monoxide poisoning can all have nausea as a symptom.
Certain medications can also cause nausea—and of course, most chemotherapy drugs cause nausea.
Treatment for nausea:
- Rehydration with an electrolyte solution, such as Pedialyte, diluted juice, 50/50 dilution of Gatorade with water or Gatorade G2 (low sugar) or plain water. You don’t want something with too high a concentration of sugar or electrolytes. Sometimes carbonated beverages help, sometimes not.
- Small, frequent feeding of bland, low fat foods, such as saltines and chicken broth, dry toast. Avoid strongly-flavored or spicy foods.
- Eating frequently keeps the blood sugar from coming down too low (which is a trigger for nausea) and keeps the stomach from being over-stretched, which can involve the vagus nerve, resulting in nausea, vomitting and diarrhea.
- Do not over-fill the stomach with any meals or liquids
- Avoid foods known to trigger nausea. If you really want to eat the food, try eating in the later half of the day, when people generally have less nausea. Foods with strong flavors or smells may bother you; fried foods and high fat foods may cause nausea, especially with gall bladder disease.
- Meclizine, sold as generic or Bonine®, over-the-counter, non-drowsy medication, 25-100 mg per day, taken as needed.
- Medical Marijuana has been shown to decrease nausea, especially in patients on chemotherapy.
© 2012 Ann M. Del Tredici, MS, RD, CDE