Nausea by definition is an irritable but pain free feeling
that precedes vomiting. It however does not necessarily lead to vomiting. In
cases where vomiting does not occur, the nausea has been reported to be more severe,
causing a lot more discomfort. It should however be noted that nausea is a
symptom to a greater health or psychological problem or an indication of
exposure of the body to harmful substances like drugs, and should not be
treated as a disease.
An analysis of the causes of nausea will therefore be of
importance to enable proper treatment and prevention. There are various causes
of nausea, the most common ones being;
1. Irritation of the stomach lining (gastritis) often caused
a) Infections (bacterial or viral).The most likely viral
infections are norovirus and rotavirus. H.Pylory bacteria on the other hand, a
bacteria of the Helicobacter family, is the main cause of the gastric bacterial
infections. These infections will often be characterised by acute upper
abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting.
b) Food poisoning which is a result of ingesting
contaminated food or uncooked/improperly cooked food. It is characterised by
nausea and intense vomiting. The most common bacteria causing food poisoning
aures -Causes Staphylococcal food
poisoning, an illness of the bowels ,a result of ingesting
toxins produced by the bacteria. It is not contagious and resolves in at most 7
Salmonella – mainly found in uncooked meat, eggs and dairy. It will
normally clear in a few days without need for medication. Severe cases may
however be resolved by using prescription antibiotics. It may however cause
E. coli – Infections caused by this bacteria are more
serious since they are contagious and may result in more complicated health
problems like kidney failure, anaemia and acute dehydration. Shigella – Causes shigellosis which is
transmitted by eating contaminated food and is most common in areas where the
sanitation situation is wanting. It causes abdominal pain accompanied by nausea
and vomiting. It will in most cases clear in a few days but treatment by
prescription drugs may be required in some cases.
c) Drug and substance abuse may also cause stomach irritation.
This will include an overdose on prescription drugs, normal usage of
prescription drugs e.g. Cancer treatment drugs and aspirin. Overindulgence in
alcohol and narcotics will also cause nausea.
2. Neurological causes; Nausea may be caused by diseases
affecting the human head, eg.migraines/acute headaches, brain swelling, meningitis,
brain tumours and brain injuries. Certain smells or sounds can also stimulate
the brain to produce a sensation that causes nausea.
3. Hormonal imbalances: This is a common occurrence in pregnancy
majorly in the first trimester. Some women may however experience this to the
late pregnancy stages. There are no accurate research results as to what
exactly causes the nausea but it is believed to be a result of a rise in
pregnancy hormones, oestrogen and HCG.
It is interesting to note that the treatment for nausea will
include simple home remedies like taking a lot of water, ginger, lemon or
cinnamon tea, peppermint aromatherapy and a lot of bed rest. It is also
advisable to avoid any nausea triggers.