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Have you ever experienced that gut feeling, the feeling of wanting to throw up and feeling sick in the tummy? Well, nausea and vomiting is only a symptom, and not a disease in itself. Nausea can occur alone or can accompany vomiting, indigestion or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Sometimes nausea may also accompany acid reflux and burning sensation in the stomach. Nausea is a signal that something is not going right in your body. Do not reach out for an anti-sickness or antiemetic medicine yet. Read on to learn about the possible causes, treatment, and management of nausea and red flags that indicate need for immediate medical attention.
What are the causes of nausea and vomiting?
There are many possible causes of nausea and vomiting, ranging from self-limiting viral stomach bug to more complex medical issues. Nausea and vomiting could also be as a side effect of medications. Almost all drugs have the potential to cause nausea and vomiting however opioids and chemotherapeutic drugs are among the most nauseating drugs. If you are pregnant, you may experience nausea and vomiting especially in the first few months of the pregnancy (morning sickness). In addition, some people experience motion sickness which is induced by movement such as when riding on a car, plane, or ship.
Reduced Gastrointestinal (GI) motility
Moreover, nausea can be as a result of reduced movement of the muscles (motility) in the gastrointestinal tract, i.e. when things are not moving quite easily along. This prevents the stomach from being emptied properly and results in a constant feeling of fullness and feeling constipated and bloated. Reduced GI motility can be caused by a stomach infection or due to poorly controlled diabetes. High blood sugar may delay proper emptying of your stomach and thus worsen symptoms.
If you experience any of the following in addition to nausea, please visit your local clinic for immediate medical attention: persistent vomiting, dehydration (sunken eyes, dry mouth, decreased urination, feeling weak or dizzy), blood in vomiting, blood in stool (red or black, tarry stool), sudden weight loss, severe abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, if you are above 55 years old.
Self-care tips to manage nausea and vomiting
-eat more frequent, small-portioned nutritious food rather than fewer larger meals throughout the day
-chew your food slowly and thoroughly
-eat soft well-cooked foods that are easily digestible
-stay hydrated, drink lots of water. Avoid alcohol or carbonated beverages
-avoid smell and food that can induce nausea
-engage in some gentle physical activity such as walking after meals
-practice relaxation therapy
-sitting up for at least 1-2 hrs after eating can help
OTC / natural health products for nausea
Gravol-dimenhydrinate: Gravol is commonly used to relieve nausea associated with motion sickness, drug-induced nausea, post-operative nausea. It works by blocking the processes that are involved in the vomiting reflex. Gravol should not be taken along with alcohol or other prescription medications that cause drowsiness such as sleeping medications.
Gravol-ginger natural source: The second gravol OTC product contains ginger and is also used to relieve the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Its use is not recommended in children less than 12 years, patients with renal disease or in patients taking blood thinners. The mechanism of action of Gravol-ginger is not fully understood but it is believed to work by stimulating and aiding the functioning of the digestive system.
The most important thing for treatment and management of nausea is to identify the underlying cause and deal with it. Since there are several possible causes of nausea, the treatment strategies for nausea will depend on the specific underlying cause. Therefore, be sure to visit your doctor if your symptoms persist after trying non-drug measures and OTC medications. Your doctor will perform test, review your medical history to determine the specific cause of your symptoms and prescribe you an appropriate medication. Specific medications are indicated for nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy drugs while others are recommended for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
After careful examination and clinical assessment, if your condition is due to poor GI motility, your doctor may prescribe GI motility drugs such as Domperidone to relieve the symptoms of nausea along with feeling of fullness in the stomach. This drug works by stimulating contraction of muscles in the stomach and duodenum thereby increasing gastric emptying rates. A valid prescription is required to order domperidone from Canadian online pharmacies. Because domperidone can cause severe side effects such as irregular heartbeat, it should be used for a short term only under direct supervision of your doctor.
In conclusion, nausea with or without vomiting can be unpleasant. Depending on the underlying cause it may disappear on its own or persist for longer. Self-care tips and OTC medications can help relieve the symptoms but more importantly following up with your physician can help unravel the underlying cause and pave way to finding a more lasting solution.
Bio: Dr. Bolanle Aina is a licensed pharmacist currently practicing in the community/retail sector. She also holds a Master of Science degree and Doctor of philosophy degree in Pharmacy from the University of Manitoba. She is passionate about health information and medical communication to promote healthy living and optimal drug therapy.
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