Nausea is an unpleasant, uneasy, or weak feeling in your stomach. You may feel like you have to vomit, but that won’t always happen.
Nausea is not an illness but a common symptom of many conditions – from bacterial or viral infections to problems with internal organs. It’s also a common side effect of certain treatments and medications.
Some common things that cause nausea are:
- Emotional distress
- Food poisoning
- Gastritis, or an inflammation of the stomach lining
- Morning sickness during pregnancy
- Motion sickness
- Stomach flu
Remedies and Treatments for Nausea
You can treat most nausea at home. As soon as you start feeling sick, limit your diet to clear liquids in frequent, small amounts. Clear liquids are easy to digest and don't put extra strain on your stomach or intestines.
While drinking water is an effective way to replace fluids, it doesn't contain the salts, sugars, and nutrients (electrolytes) you need to nourish your body until you can eat solid food again. That’s why it’s good to drink liquids with electrolytes such as:
- Clear soup broth or bouillon
- Decaffeinated tea
- Sports drinks
- Clear soft drinks like 7UP, Sprite, or ginger ale
- Juices like apple, grape, cherry, or cranberry (Make sure to avoid citrus juices.)
Avoid alcoholic beverages, dairy products, smoothies, and vegetable juice.
Drink enough fluids to keep your urine a pale straw color. If you’re not able to keep liquids down and begin to vomit, start with sips of water or sucking on ice chips. Once you are able to keep all liquids down, try some solid foods along with the liquids. Good foods to try are:
- Soda crackers
- White rice
- White toast
If your nausea causes frequent vomiting, doctors may give you oral rehydration therapy, which involves drinking a rehydration solution that replaces the minerals and body fluids you lost.
Some people find that peppermint and ginger help with their nausea, but there is not enough research to know whether these remedies work well.
When to See a Doctor
Though nausea is not typically a sign of something serious, you should reach out to your doctor if your vomiting lasts more than 2 days for adults, more than 24 hours for children, or more than 12 hours for infants. You should also schedule an appointment if you've dealt with bouts of nausea for more than a month, or if you have unexplained weight loss along with your nausea or vomiting.
While you wait to speak with your doctor, make sure to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and eat bland foods. Keep track of your symptoms and watch for any signs of dehydration.
If you have nausea along with any of the following warning signs, you should call 911 or your primary doctor right away – or go to the nearest urgent care facility or emergency room:
- Dark urine or infrequent urination
- Dizziness or confusion
- Dry mouth and other signs of dehydration
- Extreme belly pain
- Extreme headache
- High fever
- Multiple bouts of vomiting during a period lasting more than 24 hours
- Reason to think that nausea and vomiting is due to food poisoning
- Severe stiff neck
- Some blood in your vomit