What Causes Chronic Nausea?
Most of us have felt nauseated for various reasons, including riding on a roller coaster, car sickness, hangover, pregnancy, or even flying on an airplane. Despite the situation, we all know that nausea is such an unsettling feeling. Nausea is a feeling of discomfort in the stomach that makes an individual feel as though they’re going or need to vomit. However, it doesn’t mean you have to vomit when feeling nauseated.
Nausea isn’t considered a condition by itself. It’s rather a symptom of an underlying condition within the body, such as early-stage pregnancy and infections or a side effect of some medications. It ranges from strong, where an individual feels like they could vomit anytime, to a mild stomach upset. We can also classify nausea as acute or chronic, depending on the severity and how long it lasts.
Acute nausea is mild and might be a result of a condition that comes suddenly like trauma, food poisoning, car sickness, migraines, overeating, gastroenteritis, hangover, or stomach flu.
According to the American Family Physician, acute nausea lasts less than a month. Chronic nausea, on the other hand, is somehow severe and might last more than a month.
Please read on to learn more about the signs and causes of chronic nausea. But first, let’s look at the signs and symptoms of nausea.
Signs of Nausea
As mentioned earlier, nausea isn’t considered a condition or disease itself but a symptom of an underlying condition(s). While vomiting is one of the most common and notable signs of nausea, individuals with nausea are also likely to experience the following;
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stomach ache
- Skin temperature changes
- Increase saliva production
- Difficulty swallowing
- An uncomfortable feeling in the chest, upper abdomen, or back of your throat
If you have constant nausea, it’s advisable to visit your doctor or gastroenterologist to determine the cause and thus find a solution.
What Is Chronic Nausea?
Chronic or constant nausea lasts longer than a month and could signify a severe condition in your body. It may come and go, may come and go periodically, be mild or severe, or be present almost all the time.
Diagnosing the cause(s) of constant nausea isn’t easy. However, your physician can look at the accompanying symptoms and how they vary. Below are some common causes (gastrointestinal tract complications) of chronic nausea that might necessitate you to seek the help of a gastroenterologist.
1. Peptic Ulcers
Peptic ulcers are characterized by open sores on the inside lining of your stomach (gastric ulcers) and the upper part of the small intestines or duodenum (duodenal ulcers). Individuals with peptic ulcers are likely to experience stomach pain due accumulation of stomach acid, which can cause you to feel nauseated. Nausea is one of the common symptoms of peptic ulcers.
The bacterium Helicobacter pylori, commonly referred to as H. pylori, is the most common cause of peptic ulcers. Another common cause is the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, it’s worth noting that stress and spicy foods don’t cause peptic ulcers, contrary to popular opinion. They can only worsen the symptoms.
Peptic ulcers can cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, burning stomach sensation, belching, and bloating. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help alleviate the symptoms.
Gastroparesis is a digestive condition that affects normal stomach muscle movements. It affects the vagus nerve that controls your stomach muscle and lowers stomach muscle contractions, preventing your stomach from emptying properly.
Some causes and risk factors of gastroparesis include diabetes medication, virus infections, opioids, scleroderma, hyperthyroidism, and nervous system complications like Parkinson’s disease. If you have gastroparesis, you’re likely to experience:
- Weight loss
- Stomach pain
- Acid reflux
- Appetite loss
3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis, cause inflammation in various parts of the digestive tract and are closely associated with nausea. IBS changes or disturbs bowel function that can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating, leaving you nauseous for a long time.
Once you visit your doctor, they’ll determine the cause(s) of it before recommending a treatment method. They might also include a treatment option for the inflammation caused by the IBD.
4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), also referred to as the spastic or irritable colon, is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder that affects the large intestine. Some common signs and symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and excessive gas.
Family history of IBS, food intolerance, emotional stress, anxiety, and history of sexual or physical abuse are some IBS risk factors. While the exact causes of IBS are unknown, some common factors that can lead to IBS include dysmotility, visceral hypersensitivity, and brain-gut dysfunction.
The signs and symptoms of IBS are associated with chronic nausea. If you identify any of these signs, it’s advisable to seek help as soon as you can.
5. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that weakens or causes the over-relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle ring between your esophagus and stomach. When this happens, stomach contents come back into the esophagus, causing heartburn, regurgitation, acid reflux, indigestion, and nausea. If GERD goes untreated for long, it can cause chronic nausea.
The symptoms are likely to worsen after your meals or during sleep. You’re likely to have it all the time, especially as acid backs up into your throat. Luckily, GERD is treatable with OTC or prescription drugs. Changing your lifestyle, like losing weight and avoiding GERD triggers, can also help. However, visiting your doctor for a more conclusive diagnosis is advisable to determine the cause and put you under the appropriate treatment.
Other gastrointestinal conditions that might cause chronic nausea include:
- Celiac disease
- Intestinal obstruction
What to Do if You Are Experiencing Chronic Nausea
Chronic nausea is uncomfortable and can lead to more complications, harming your gastrointestinal tract if it goes unchecked. Once you notice any signs of it, the next best step is to schedule a session with your physician or gastroenterologist as soon as possible to avoid further difficulties.
At The Gastroenterology Group of Northern New Jersey, we care about your gastrointestinal wellbeing. We offer a range of cutting-edge treatments for various gastrointestinal conditions and diseases to give you the diagnosis and relief you deserve. Our highly skilled gastroenterologists are always ready to provide you with the best care and get your health back as soon as possible.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us today for inquiries or to schedule a consultation.