Nausea is a common issue that can be caused by a number of different things. Nausea means ‘feeling sick’ and sometimes it is a precursor to actually vomiting, but other times it is something that happens by itself, and the sufferer simply feels unwell and perhaps loses their appetite.
What Causes Nausea
There are many different things that can cause nausea, including 1, 2 3 Travel sickness
– Stomach infections
– Colds and flu
– Food intolerance
– The side-effects of certain medications, including cancer infections
– Pregnancy (morning sickness)
Why Do We Feel Nausea?
Nausea is a self-defense mechanism in our bodies. When we feel nausea we may start to salivate, go pale, and retch. Our body is warning us that there is something very wrong and that we may have ingested something that is toxic. Things that make us want to vomit are known as emetics.4 If our body decides that there is something wrong–that our stomach is irritated, there is an obstruction that needs clearing, or that we have been exposed to something that makes us ill–then it will make us feel nauseated so that we are not tempted to continue eating.
That’s why unpleasant smells and food will make us feel ill just through smell or even sight. Our body instinctively knows that we should avoid it.
Home Remedies for Nausea
Nausea itself is not really a disease, but usually a symptom of another condition such as food poisoning, a peptic ulcer, migraines, etc..5 If you are feeling nausea then you should look into ways to cope with it and to reduce the symptoms while you manage whatever other condition it is that is causing the nausea.
In general, it’s a good idea to get some fresh air if you feel sick. However, sometimes you may not be able to move. If you are experiencing motion sickness, then trying to stay still and to fix your eyes on an object that is not moving can sometimes help to offset the feeling of illness. If you are suffering from migraines then it may be that you will need to just lie down in a darkened room. Trying to find a quiet environment can often be helpful.
It is important to stay hydrated even when you feel unwell. Take small sips of water or peppermint tea or something else that calms your stomach. Avoid alcohol, coffee, or fizzy beverages because they can make you feel worse.
If you feel up to it, then eating small amounts of something relatively plain could help to reduce feelings of nausea. Avoid greasy or spicy food, and eat only small quantities until any feelings of nausea subside.
Nausea during pregnancy is known as morning sickness and it can be quite severe. Practicing good oral hygiene and learning what triggers nausea can help to reduce feelings of sickness, but you may need to take time off work for a while until your symptoms subside.6
Essential Oils that Can Combat Nausea
Some people find that using essential oils to calm and soothe their stomachs can help when they are feeling sick. Here is a quick look at a few of our favorites.
Inhaling peppermint oil can help to reduce feelings of nausea quite quickly.7 Simply sniffing peppermint oil is often enough to reduce feelings of nausea. In addition, drinking peppermint tea can help to calm an unhappy stomach.
Lavender is best known for helping people to fight against anxiety but it is useful for nausea too. It is often given to people who are recovering from bugs or who have just had an operation. It is the calming effect that lavender has which is so useful for fighting against nausea.8 Many people who go through stressful situations experience ‘feeling sick to their stomach’ and that is exactly what lavender can help with.
Ginger is widely regarded as being useful as an aid for travel sickness.9 Travel sickness is a particularly tricky condition to deal with because even if someone does vomit after an attack of it, they are unlikely to feel any relief from nausea, because travel sickness is typically caused by the motion of the vehicle rather than any other influence. Ginger can help to calm the feelings of nausea in travel sickness and has also been found to be helpful for pregnant women, as well as for people who are experiencing nausea following treatment with anaesthesia.10 Ginger is well known as a classic remedy and children who felt nausea would often be given a ginger snap biscuit to suck or nibble on to calm their stomachs. The combination of the effect of the herb and the strong aroma is often enough to stop mild nausea in its tracks.
Spearmint oil works in a similar way to peppermint oil and can be a handy treatment for nausea and vomiting.11 It can be rubbed into pressure points, smelled from a tissue, or used in a diffuser. It is quite mild and is not used as often as, say, ginger oil, but it has been found to be quite effective for people who are experiencing mild, acute bouts of nausea.
Fennel is quite well known as being a useful aid for digestion, and also for helping to relieve constipation.12 It can help to reduce gastric distress and it is useful for reducing feelings of nausea that are associated with tension in the digestive tract. You can use it in a diffuser or put a few drops onto pressure points. It is quite a gentle, mild oil and you can use it several times per day without issue in most cases.
Cardamom oil is frequently mixed with other essential oils and it can have a beneficial impact on people who are experiencing general anxiety and nausea as a result of other illnesses.13 It has been found to have mild anti-nausea effects by itself, as well as being a good relaxation-promoting agent. It blends well with other oils, too and that is when it really starts to come into its own as an aid for people who are struggling with illness, anxiety, stress, and nausea.
When to See a Doctor About Nausea
Mild, occasional nausea is nothing to worry about. It is something that can happen to people who are feeling generally unwell. Some people are more prone to nausea than others and studies show that there are numerous things impacting susceptibility to motion sickness, including the menstrual cycle.14
In general, if a child is being sick then the best thing to do is to keep them hydrated and try to get them to consume small amounts of plain food if the illness lasts for more than a day or so. Adults should follow a similar strategy. If it is clear that they are ‘just ill’, have eaten something that disagrees with them, or are experiencing motion sickness, then the priority should be to stay hydrated and to try to ride out the illness.
If vomiting lasts for more than 24 hours and there are signs of dehydration then it is important to see a doctor.15 If a child is vomiting for more than a few hours or has a fever then you should call a doctor. You should seek urgent advice if you have reason to believe that the vomiting is related to drugs, alcohol or exposure to any toxic substance.
Nausea without vomiting is cause for concern if it lasts for more than a few days. If you find yourself unable to eat and are losing weight, then this could be a sign of an underlying medical condition and it is important that you get it checked out. Persistent nausea could be a sign of peptic ulcers, esophageal cancer or many other conditions. Early testing and diagnosis could help to ensure successful treatment if there is something wrong.
Long-term nausea can lead to dehydration, weight loss, and malnutrition. Persistent vomiting can cause the same and can also damage the sufferer’s teeth.
Treating Someone Who is Vomiting for an Unknown Reason
If someone that you care for is experiencing nausea and vomiting, and you are worried about them, start by talking to them. If they are responsive, can hold a conversation and are able to move, then you should get them comfortable. If they are slurring their speech or appear to have suffered a concussion, put them in the recovery position and seek professional medical advice. If they are not responsive, then again, seek medical advice, and look for clues as to what may be causing them to be unwell–for example, the presence of alcohol or medication.
Lying someone on their side in the recovery position will help to ensure that they do not choke on their vomit if they are sick while they are unattended. Do not try to move someone if you are worried that they have a spinal injury, because that can do more harm than good. If the person you are helping is having trouble breathing, then you can try to clear their airways, but be careful with this. If you are not first-aid trained, then call the ambulance service and ask them to talk you through it while help is on the way. Seconds count and the help from trained ambulance staff will be more valuable than any guesswork that you are likely to do.
Preventing Nausea and Vomiting
In most cases, nausea and vomiting are just caused by ‘a bug’ but there are some things that you can do to prevent them:
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If you are taking medications that are supposed to be taken with food, be sure to follow that instruction, eat something plain that will help the medication to be digested properly.
-Eat smaller meals throughout the day to avoid bloating and nausea.
– Keep a food diary and pay attention to how different foods make you feel.
– Eat more fiber to aid digestion.
– Drink lots of water throughout the day.
– Practice good oral hygiene.
– Get regular exercise, to support digestion.
– Do not lay down immediately after eating, give your food time to settle.
– Use aromatherapy to calm nausea reflexes
Acid Reflux and Nausea
Some people suffer from heartburn or acid reflux, and also experience nausea as a symptom. Acid reflux is a common condition, and it is something that can be managed with the above tips, however, in serious cases, you may need to take medication to stave it off.16 There are a number of medications that can help with acid reflux, including proton pump inhibitors and antacids. Note that antacids work by neutralizing the stomach acid rather than stopping it from escaping past the lower esophageal sphincter. You should still consider lifestyle changes that might help to reduce stress on the sphincter and reduce the likelihood of excess acid escaping.
Nausea and Stress
Some people who are stressed and anxious report feeling nausea as a symptom on top of other issues such as a racing heart, sweaty palms, or intrusive thoughts.17 Nausea is a common part of generalized anxiety disorder. It can be difficult to manage nausea in this instance because it is a physical response to an issue that is not an infection or a toxin. It is the person’s thoughts that are causing nausea.
If you are struggling with anxiety to the point that it is making you lose your appetite or feel sick then it may be a good idea to talk to a counselor or a doctor. Try finding ways to cope with your anxiety, whether that is to meditate, exercise, use essential oils, or to take medication, depending on the severity. Nausea is just one of the symptoms of anxiety and it is not necessarily the worst. Long-term stress can play havoc with your body.
Despite the effects of nausea, there are still a number of things to do to combat it. One that many people turn to is aromatherapy. MONQ’s Blends all incorporate calming combinations of oils, like the Sleepy Blend. If you find you have issues with nausea, aromatherapy is a good bet to be effective for you.
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