Nausea is a sick feeling in the pit of your
stomach. When you are nauseated, you may feel weak and sweaty and have too much
saliva in your mouth. You may even vomit. This forces your stomach contents up
your esophagus and out of your mouth. Most of the time,
nausea and vomiting are not serious. Home treatment will often help you feel
Nausea and vomiting can be a symptom of another illness.
Nausea and vomiting may be caused by:
- Illness caused by a virus, such as viral stomach
- Food poisoning.
- Medicines, such as
antibiotics, birth control pills, or heart medicines.
"Morning sickness" may be one of your first
- Problems with abdominal (belly) organs.
- Migraine headache.
- Heart attack.
- Head injury.
or drug abuse or withdrawal.
disorders, such as
- Disorders of the inner ear, such
Ménière's disease, or motion sickness.
- Radiation therapy.
Nausea or vomiting also may be a symptom of a problem or a
disease, such as:
- Liver disease
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Inflammation or irritation
of the lining of the stomach (gastritis).
- Ulcer disease
of the stomach or small intestine (peptic ulcers).
- Gallbladder problems (cholecystitis).
- Inflammation of the
- Kidney stones.
- Kidney disease (pyelonephritis or
chronic kidney disease).
- Urinary problems,
such as a
urinary tract infection (UTI).
problems, such as a
- Infection in or around
the brain, such as
encephalitis, or a brain tumor.
Nausea and vomiting can quickly cause
dehydration. Older adults have an increased chance of
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you
should see a doctor.
Home treatment may be all that is
needed to treat occasional nausea.
- Watch for
dehydration, and treat it early. Signs of dehydration include being thirstier than usual and having less urine than usual. Older adults and young
children can quickly become dehydrated.
- Don't use aspirin or a
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as
ibuprofen, to treat belly pain.
- Take an
over-the-counter antinausea medicine, such as
meclizine (Antivert or Bonine) or dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), or an
antihistamine, such as Benadryl. Don't give
antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor
- Try acupressure:
- Place the tip of your right index finger on
the underside of your left wrist, about
1.5 in. (4 cm) from your hand.
Acupressure points are very small, so you may need to try this method more than
- Apply moderate pressure for 2 to 3
- Repeat as needed.
- Acupressure bands,
which are available for motion sickness, may help reduce nausea.
- Suck on peppermint candy, or chew a stick of
peppermint gum. Peppermint may relax tight muscles in your stomach and help
decrease the stomach contractions that may be causing your nausea.
If you are vomiting:
- Rest in bed until you are feeling
- Sip a
rehydration drink to restore lost fluids and
- After vomiting has stopped for 1 hour, drink
1 fl oz (30 mL) of a clear
liquid every 20 minutes for 1 hour. Clear liquids include apple or grape
juice mixed to half strength with water, rehydration drinks, weak tea with
sugar, clear broth, and gelatin dessert. Avoid orange juice, grapefruit juice,
tomato juice, and lemonade. Avoid apple and grape juice if you also have
diarrhea. Do not drink milk products, alcohol, or carbonated drinks such as
- If you do not have any more vomiting, increase the amount
of fluid you drink to
8 fl oz (240 mL) during the
second hour. If you are not vomiting after the second hour, make sure that you
continue to drink enough to prevent dehydration.
- When you are
feeling better, begin eating clear soups, mild foods, and liquids until all
symptoms are gone for 12 to 48 hours. Gelatin dessert, dry toast, crackers, and
cooked cereal are good choices. Try to stay away from strong food odors, which
can make nausea worse.
The acid in vomit can erode dental enamel and cause tooth
decay (cavities). Rinse your mouth with water after you
vomit. Brush your teeth if you can.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
develops. Signs of dehydration include being thirstier than usual and having less urine than usual.
stiff neck develops.
- Severe vomiting develops.
- Vomit contains blood or material that looks like
- Vomiting with fever of
103°F (39.4°C) or higher occurs
or fever lasts longer than 2 days.
- Belly pain develops or gets
symptoms become more severe or more frequent.
Food poisoning is one of the most
common causes of nausea and vomiting in adults. To prevent food poisoning:
- Follow the 2-40-140 rule. Don't eat meats, dressing, salads, or
other foods that have been kept between
40°F (4.4°C) and
140°F (60°C) for more than 2
- Be especially careful with large cooked meats, such as your
holiday turkey, which require a long time to cool. Thick parts of the meat may
stay over 40°F (4.4°C) long
enough to allow bacteria to grow.
- Use a thermometer to check your
refrigerator. It should be between
34°F (1.1°C) and
- Defrost meats in the refrigerator or the microwave,
not on the kitchen counter.
- Wash your hands, cutting boards, and
countertops often. After handling raw meats, especially chicken, wash your
hands and utensils before preparing other foods.
- The U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that you reheat meats to over
140°F (60°C) for at least 10
minutes to destroy bacteria. Even then the bacteria may not be destroyed.
- Cook all meats to the recommended
temperature. See how to
cook foods to prevent food poisoning.
- Cook hamburger well done.
Cook chicken until the juices run clear.
- Cover meats and poultry
during microwave cooking to heat the surface of the meat.
- Do not eat raw eggs or uncooked sauces made with
- Keep party foods on ice.
- When you eat out, avoid
rare and uncooked meats or seafood. Eat salad bar and deli items before they
- Discard any cans or jars with bulging lids or
- Follow home canning and freezing instructions carefully.
Contact your county agricultural extension office for advice.
you think that food may have been stored in your refrigerator for too long,
don't take the chance. Throw it out.
For more information, see the topic
Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling.
Increase your chance of staying healthy
- Washing your hands often, especially
during winter months when
viral illnesses are most common.
- Keeping your
hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth. Viruses are most likely to enter
your body through these areas.
- Eating a healthy and
- Getting regular
- Not smoking. Smoking irritates the lining of your nose,
sinuses, and lungs, which may increase your risk for problems from a viral
You can help prevent influenza by getting
immunized with an influenza vaccine each year, as soon as it's available. The "flu shot" is given by injection. This form of the
vaccine prevents most cases of the flu.
Even if a flu shot does not
prevent the flu, the vaccine can make your flu symptoms milder and decrease the
risk of problems from the flu.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
- Describe your nausea and vomiting:
- When did it start?
- How many times
have you vomited?
- When did you last vomit?
- What does
the vomit look like (blood, coffee grounds, bile, mucus, undigested
- What prescription and nonprescription medicines are
- Are you taking any new prescription or
- Have you recently increased the dose of
- Are you taking a medicine more frequently?
- Have you recently been exposed to someone with
a similar illness?
- Did your symptoms start after eating at a
restaurant? Has anyone else who ate there with you become ill?
you recently eaten raw or undercooked seafood?
- Do you think you
have eaten any contaminated food?
- Have you recently drunk any
untreated lake, stream, or well water?
- Have you recently gone on a
cruise or traveled outside the country?
- Have you had any known
exposure to toxic materials, chemicals, or fumes?
- Do you think that
your vomiting is caused by alcohol or drug use?
- What home treatment
measures have you tried? How well have they worked?
- Do you have any
other symptoms, such as diarrhea, fever, headache, urinary problems, or
- Do you ever force yourself to
- Have you ever been diagnosed with an eating disorder, such
- Does anyone else in your family
have problems with vomiting?
- Do you have any
- Abdominal Pain, Age 12 and Older
- Diarrhea, Age 11 and Younger
- Diarrhea, Age 12 and Older
- Respiratory Problems, Age 11 and Younger
- Respiratory Problems, Age 12 and Older
|By: ||Healthwise Staff ||Current as of: June 4, 2014|
|Medical Review: ||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine