Nausea

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Introduction

What is nausea?

Nausea is a very common symptom that is often described as a feeling of queasiness or wooziness, or a need to vomit. Nausea accompanies a wide variety of mild to serious infections, diseases, conditions, and injuries, and it occurs in all age groups and populations.

Symptoms of nausea can be short-term and disappear quickly, as in the case of indigestion. But symptoms can also be long-lasting or recur over a period of days, weeks, and months, such as nausea induced by migraine, cancer, pancreatitis, certain medications, or body trauma.

Nausea occurs with other symptoms affecting the digestive system as well as other body systems.

Nausea associated with head injury, bloody stools, or vomiting of blood can be a symptom of a serious, potentially life-threatening condition and should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting.

Symptoms

What other symptoms might occur with nausea?

Nausea may be accompanied by other symptoms depending on the underlying disease, disorder, or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the digestive tract may also involve other body systems. 

Digestive symptoms that may occur along with nausea

Nausea may accompany other symptoms affecting the digestive tract including:

Other symptoms that may occur along with nausea

Nausea can also be caused by problems in body systems other than the digestive tract including:

If you think about it, nausea can occur in virtually any situation.

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, nausea may accompany symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Symptoms that may indicate a serious or life-threatening condition include:

  • Bloody or black stools

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Fainting or change in level of consciousness or lethargy

  • Head injury

  • High fever (over 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Rapid pulse or rapid breathing

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Severe headache or stiff neck

  • Vomiting blood or black material (resembling coffee grounds)

Causes

What causes nausea?

Conditions that are known to cause nausea include infection, poisoning, malignancy (cancer), inflammation, trauma, obstruction, and other abnormal processes within the digestive, nervous, reproductive, cardiovascular, or endocrine systems.

Gastrointestinal causes of nausea

Nausea may arise from problems in the digestive tract including:

Other causes of nausea

Nausea can also be caused by problems in body systems other than the digestive tract including:

Life-threatening causes of nausea

In some cases, nausea may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting.

Call your doctor or poison-control hotline immediately or take the child to an emergency care facility if you suspect poisoning or drug ingestion.

What are the potential complications of nausea?

Left untreated, nausea can lead to serious complications including:

  • Dehydration due to a decreased desire to drink or ability to hold fluids

  • Poor nutrition due to a decreased desire to eat

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2018 Nov 21
  1. Nausea. Women’s Health. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/conditions/nausea
  2. Nausea and vomiting – adults. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003117.htm
  3. Vomiting. Nemours. http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/emergencies/vomit.html
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