Nausea is a symptom of an underlying condition which may be anything from physiological such as in the case of morning sickness associated with pregnancy, through to pathological such as in the case of liver disease. Nausea may also be associated with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, anorexia or bulimia nervosa, as well as with the use of certain medications.
Treatment is aimed at reducing the discomfort associated with nausea as well as preventing vomiting, which may lead to more severe consequences if it is occurring repeatedly. Severe vomiting, for example, may lead to dehydration and the depletion of electrolytes in the body.
An outline of the treatment approach to nausea is given below:
- Even though nausea is associated with loss of appetite, small amounts of solid foods may help alleviate nausea to a certain extent. These small amounts of food should be low in sugar and fat. Foods high in sugar content may exacerbate nausea and foods high in fat may lead to an overfull feeling as well as a delayed emptying of the stomach that can increase discomfort.
- Ingestion of ice cold water or crushed ice may help ease nausea, especially when nausea is caused by motion sickness.
- Home remedies for nausea include spices, ginger, citrus fruits and peppermint and have been shown in studies to significantly alleviate the condition.
- Bismuth is an over-the-counter nausea and vomiting remedy.
- Medications that help relieve nausea are referred to as antiemetics. Some examples include:
- Agents that hasten the emptying of the gut, relieving nausea and uncomfortable fullness of the stomach. Examples include metoclopramide and domperidone
- Agents that alleviate the severe nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy or post-surgery anesthetic agents. Examples are ondansetron, promethazine, dimenhydrinate, dexamethasone and droperidol
- Drugs that relieves morning sickness such as doxylamine
- An antidepressant called mirtazapine that also happens to relieve nausea