Nausea Causes

Nausea, sometimes referred to as stomach pain, and vomiting are not a disease or disorder within themselves; rather, they are non-specific symptoms that can be caused by a myriad of other conditions, ranging from motion sickness to depression. Knowing exactly what is causing your stomach pain can help you and your doctor figure out how best to treat it. Though there are hundreds of possible causes for nausea, here are some of the most common causes for this symptom.

Abdominal Conditions

There are many conditions related to the stomach and abdominal region that can cause nausea. Some of them include:

  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux)
  • Kidney disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Irritation of the intestinal lining
  • Menstruation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Constipation
  • Listeria or food poisoning

Some of these conditions are not serious, and the nausea will usually pass on its own once whatever was making you sick is out of your body. However, there are some conditions that require medical attention, so if your nausea persists for more than 24 hours, see your doctor to receive a diagnosis.


Morning sickness, also known as nausea gravidarum, is a common symptom of pregnancy that affects over half of all pregnant women. This type of stomach pain is usually not something to be worried about since it is an expected and normal part of most pregnancies. However, talk to you doctor if the nausea and/or vomiting becomes too much to handle, since there are some medications your doctor might be able to recommend.

Inner Ear Conditions

Problems with your inner-ear can potentially cause nausea and vertigo, which is the sensation that things are spinning around you. The most common example is motion sickness, which can include air sickness, car sickness, sea sickness, train sickness, etc.

Other inner-ear related conditions that can lead to nausea include labyrinthitis, which is an ear infection caused by a virus that affects your balance, and benign positional vertigo, which is a common cause of vertigo.

Brain or Spinal Fluid Conditions

Any disease or condition that is related to brain or spinal fluid can lead to nausea as a symptom. These include migraines, head trauma, stroke, meningitis, or brain tumors.

Cancer Treatments

Nausea and vomiting can be serious side effects of certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Excessive vomiting can lead to many other problems, such as loss of appetite, torn esophagus, dehydration, malnutrition, broken bones, and reopening of surgical incisions. Therefore, anti-nausea medications are typically given to patients in conjunction with cancer therapies in order to prevent these problems from occurring.

Psychological Conditions

Research has shown that nausea can be caused by something as simple as seeing someone else vomit, or witnessing something difficult to watch, such as a car crash or a dissection. Additionally, nausea is a common side effect of anxiety and depression, as well as other mental illnesses such as anorexia or bulimia. Fortunately, if nausea is a side effect of a mental disorder, then having the disorder diagnosed and treated will likely reduce nausea as a symptom as well.

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