What is nausea and vomiting?
Nausea is an unpleasant sensation of unease and discomfort in the pit of the stomach, often with a feeling that one is about to vomit. Vomiting is the forcible expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach through the mouth. The two terms are frequently used together to indicate an episode or symptom associated with nausea/vomiting.
Experiencing an unpleasant sensation of unease and discomfort in the pit of the stomach?
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What causes nausea and vomiting?
Nausea and vomiting can have many different causes, both serious and not-so-serious. Common triggers include;
Nausea and occasionally vomiting are the primary symptoms of what is known as motion sickness, which, despite its name, can be suffered anywhere rather than just in vehicles. It may also be caused by watching moving films or television programs.
This term covers inflammation of the stomach and intestines involving either viral or bacterial causes. Symptoms include pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and sometimes even fever.
This occurs when food has been contaminated with bacteria or toxins produced by bacteria. The most common bacterium involved is called “salmonella,” but other types of bacteria may also be to blame. There are also several toxins that may cause food poisoning, including those made by algae blooms (red tides), by certain types of mushrooms (amatoxins), and by bacteria such as “Escherichia coli” (E. Coli).
This is similar to motion sickness but can be triggered in some people when travelling via land, sea, or air, even if they are not in a moving vehicle.
Nausea can also be associated with medicines used for other treatments, e.g., chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, etc. It may also be experienced by individuals who have taken recreational drugs or alcohol in excess.
Vomiting due to lack of water in the body occurs, particularly when there has been excessive exercise with insufficient rehydration afterward.
Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease (a degenerative disorder of the nervous system whose symptoms include tremor and slow movement). Multiple sclerosis (an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the central nervous system) and epilepsy (spontaneous seizures occur due to abnormal excitable nerve cells in certain brain parts).
Nausea is common in early pregnancy, with around 70-80% of women experiencing it. Nausea may be experienced by individuals who are pregnant but not yet at the early stages. Vomiting during pregnancy can also have other causes, including kidney infections, diabetic ketoacidosis, or gallstones.
What are the symptoms that accompany nausea and vomiting?
The primary symptom is usually nausea, but it may be accompanied by other symptoms, including; abdominal discomfort, headache, bloating, excessive salivation, sweating/flushing, etc. If you vomit, there may be some additional symptoms, including stomach pain, dehydration, and blood loss if you have been sick enough to bring up blood. Nausea with no vomiting is not as severe and does not pose a significant health risk.
Experiencing any of the above symptoms?
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What are the risk factors associated with nausea and vomiting?
There are a number of factors that can increase the chances of someone becoming nauseous or vomiting. These include; age (particularly in young children), underlying health conditions, previous experience, psychological factors, and pregnancy. We explain them in detail below.
Children are particularly susceptible to vomiting due to their immature digestive systems, which can be overloaded with food or liquid very easily. Young babies may frequently vomit because they have not yet developed an effective swallowing reflex, so they tend to take in too much air at the same time as feeding, which causes them to regurgitate some of what they have consumed. Elderly individuals are also more likely than younger adults to suffer from nausea and vomiting because of deteriorating digestion problems, increased likelihood that medicine will cause side effects, etc.
Individuals who have an underlying health problem are more likely to have issues with nausea. These conditions or diseases could include irritable bowel syndrome or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disorder that makes breathing difficult because the airways are narrowed by mucus and other lung problems.
Nausea has psychological effects as well as physical ones because if you have felt nauseous before, it can trigger memories that may increase your chances of feeling sick again.
Psychological factors such as stress, depression, and anxiety can also contribute to someone developing symptoms of nausea or vomiting.
Pregnancy itself doesn’t cause vomiting, but the hormonal changes associated with it may reduce an individual’s tolerance for certain smells and foods, which can result in becoming nauseated.
What is the treatment for nausea and vomiting?
If you decide to seek medical advice about your nausea and vomiting, your family doctor may first refer you to a product called antiemetics which are medicines that reduce the feelings of nausea and vomiting. You may be offered them as an injection or as a tablet.
Other treatment options include; changes in diet, avoiding certain foods and smells, rehydration (replenishing fluids) with oral rehydration solutions such as Dioralyte, etc., oxygen therapy, medications such as antihistamines (that block the action of histamine – a substance that causes inflammation and swelling), antacids (medicines that combat stomach acidity), prokinetic agents (drugs that stimulate the muscles at the start of the digestive system and help food move smoothly through it), antibiotics (used to treat bacterial infections) and steroids etc.
Nausea tends to pass fairly quickly, so if it has not improved within a few days of trying these treatment options, you should seek more specialist advice, particularly if the nausea is accompanied by vomiting because there may be another underlying health issue that needs addressing. If you find yourself feeling nauseous or vomiting, don’t ignore the problem just because it tends to go away on its own.
Try some of the treatments suggested above, but if they don’t work, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with a clinic in Singapore. Our digestive health specialists will examine you and recommend the best course of treatment to ensure your symptoms don’t return.
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