What is nausea?

Nausea is when you feel sick to your stomach as if you are going to throw up. It is not a diseases, but a symptom of many different conditions, such as infection (stomach flu), blocked intestine from cancer spread (for example in advanced colon cancer), and certain cancer treatments like cisplatin, radiation therapy, or surgery.

How bad is my nausea?

We break it down into three categories depending on how severe it is:

Mild: This means that you have a loss of appetite without changes in your eating habits (for example, the total quantity of food or number of meals a day). Most of the time, mild nausea can be safely managed at home by following the tips in the mild nausea section below.

Moderate: This means that your oral intake has decreased but you are not having a significant weight loss, dehydration, or malnutrition. It can sometimes be safely managed at home but may require the attention of your medical team. You can learn about how to manage moderate nausea in the section below.

Severe: This means that you are having an inadequate (very low) oral food or fluid intake. Severe nausea may be an emergency and require additional medical interventions including tube feedings, TPN, or hospitalization in some cases. You should record severe nausea on Ankr and call your medical team for assistance immediately.

How to manage mild nausea
  • Get enough fluids, to avoid dehydration. If you are having trouble keeping liquids down, drink small amounts of clear liquids often.
  • Eat bland foods; stay away from spicy, fatty, or salty foods
  • Eat smaller meals more often
  • Avoid strong smells, since they can sometimes trigger nausea and vomiting
  • If vomiting and diarrhea last more than 24 hours, an oral re-hydrating solution should be used to prevent and treat dehydration.
  • When associated with surgery, radiation therapy, anticancer drugs, alcohol, and morphine, it can often be treated with another type of drug therapy. Consult with your healthcare provider before using these treatments.
How to manage moderate and severe nausea?

Contact your health care provider immediately if you have:

  • A reason to think that your vomiting is from poisoning
  • Vomited for longer than 24 hours
  • Blood in the vomit
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe headache and stiff neck
  • Signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, infrequent urination or dark urine
What causes nausea?
  • Sea sickness and other motion sicknesses
  • Early pregnancy
  • Intense pain
  • Exposure to chemical toxins
  • Emotional stress (fear)
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Food poisoning
  • Indigestion
  • Various viruses
  • Certain smells or odors
  • Concussions
  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Appendicitis
  • Migraine headaches
  • Brain tumors

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