Feeling nauseous? This could be why

Morning sickness isn’t the only cause of nausea – there are plenty of reasons you may be feeling queasy

A churning stomach and feeling sick isn’t pleasant, but worrying about what’s causing your nausea could make you feel even worse. If you’re definitely not pregnant, then it could be one of these common problems.

A stomach bug or food poisoning

Nausea after eating? If you’ve consumed something dodgy, you may start to feel nauseous within hours of your meal. But it can take a few days or even weeks for a stomach bug to make itself known. As well as experiencing dizziness and nausea, you may actually be sick, have diarrhoea and generally feel under the weather.1 Make sure you drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated – sip, don’t gulp as this can make you feel worse – and eat small meals when you feel able to.2 Some experts recommend following the BRAT diet – bananas, rice, apple purée and toast – as these foods are bland and easy to digest.3

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Is it a migraine?

If you’ve also got a throbbing pain on one side of the head, and are more sensitive than usual to lights, sounds or smells, it could be a migraine – one of the common causes of nausea. Many migraineurs are actually sick, and often get visual disturbances such as blurred vision too.4 The exact cause of migraine is still not known but female hormones, your family history, certain foods and drinks like coffee and strong cheeses, stress and poor sleep can all trigger an attack.5 Once you work out what your triggers are, you can cut them down or avoid them.

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Anxiety and nausea

Anxiety doesn’t just make you feel worried, irritable, or on high alert – it can have physical symptoms too, including making you feel nauseous.6 A 2002 Norwegian study carried out on 62,000 people found that 41% of those who felt very sick also experienced some form of anxiety.7 It’s thought that anxiety pushes our body into the fight-or-flight response, which directs blood away from the digestive system into the muscles.8 This creates that churning-stomach sensation, which – long-term – could damage your digestion. You can help manage your anxiety with talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, regular exercise and relaxation techniques, for example mindfulness or visualisation.9,10 Talk to your GP if anxiety is stopping you living a normal life.

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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
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1. NHS Choices. Food poisoning. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/food-poisoning/
2. NHS Choices. Diarrhoea and vomiting. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diarrhoea-and-vomiting/
3. Medical News Today. Everything you need to know about the BRAT diet? Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318255.php
4. Mayo Clinic. Migraine. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20360201
5. As above
6. NHS Choices. Moodzone: Why do I feel anxious and panicky? Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-panic/
7. Science Daily. Nausea sometimes a red flag for anxiety and depression. Available from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020311080611.htm
8. Harvard Health Publishing. Stress and the sensitive gut. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/stress-and-the-sensitive-gut
9. As above
10. Mind. Anxiety and panic attacks: How can I help myself? Available from: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anxiety-and-panic-attacks/self-care-for-anxiety/

Related Topics

Stomach Flu