But it’s important to note that nausea is not an ailment. It’s a symptom of something else that’s upsetting your body. It could be the flu, motion sickness, migraines, anxiety, hangovers, pregnancy, food poisoning, eating too much, a concussion or medication.
What causes nausea? While it’s not certain, it’s believed that the gastrointestinal tract is always in motion, contracting and expanding to help food move down the tract. Nausea is caused when that pattern is upset, either moving too fast, or too slow.
No matter the cause, the one thing everyone can agree on, is that absolutely no one enjoys nausea.
So what to do? There are a series of time tested techniques that help relieve nausea. Here are the top 5:
1. Sit Upright
When you’re feeling nauseous, avoid lying down. Either sit up or prop yourself up in bed to a prone position.
When you lie down, the liquids in your stomach tend to move up, creating additional pressure and discomfort.
2. BRAT Diet
Grandma was right. Eat small portions of bland foods. The BRAT diet stands for bread, rice, apple sauce and toast. Keep it plain, keep it simple.
Avoid fatty, fried, spicy or very sweet foods. That means no red meat, dairy, donuts or fries.
In addition to eating small portions of plain food, try eating your food cold or at room temperature to avoid overpowering odors and tastes. The more bland the better while your nauseous.
Find out more about how the BRAT diet works here.
Ginger has been used since ancient times to treat all types of gastrointestinal related illnesses from nausea to motion sickness and vomiting.
One meta study concludes that “ginger is an effective and inexpensive treatment for nausea and vomiting and is safe.”((Integr Med Insights: The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy)) In fact, ginger is often recommended to help mothers avoid nausea during pregnancy and cancer patients during chemotherapy.
There are several ways you can eat ginger to help you overcome nausea. You can buy it fresh, pickled, candied, dried, powdered or consume it as a tea, soda, syrup and even baked into cookies.
The recommended safe daily dosage is 1,000 mg of powdered ginger a day. 1,000 mg is the equivalent of 1 grated teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, four cups of prepackaged ginger tea or two pieces of crystallized ginger.
Peppermint is also reported to help ease nausea. It’s currently being used to help pregnant women combat morning sickness,((Iran Red Crescent Med J.: Study of the Effect of Mint Oil on Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy)) post-operative patients((J Adv Nurs.: Peppermint oil: a treatment for postoperative nausea.)) and palliative and hospice patients.((Digital Commons @ Gardner-Webb University: The Use of Peppermint Oil to Reduce the Nausea of the Palliative Care and Hospice Patient)) While mint hasn’t been shown to reduce the frequency of nausea, it has been shown to reduce its intensity.
One of mint’s benefits, is that unlike many medications, it doesn’t come with any harmful side effects, but can still be effective in treating nausea.
In most clinical situations, patients were given mint oil. You can also use packaged peppermint tea, fresh mint from the grocery store or even peppermint gum.
It’s nice to go all natural, and it can certainly work, but sometimes you may want a little extra horsepower to tackle your nausea. Moreover, sometimes medication can actually treat the cause of your nausea, not just the symptom.
Get rid of the cause, and you won’t have to worry about treating your nausea, it will go away by itself:
- Migraines: If you’re nauseous because of a migraine, consider taking Excedrin for migraine headaches. If you can get rid of the migraine, you’ll hopefully get rid of the nausea.
- The flu: If you have the flu, you might want to take ibuprofen. While it doesn’t relieve nausea per se, it can challenge the virus and relieve headaches, pain or fevers, all of which can cause nausea.
- Motion sickness: If you’re prone to getting motion sickness in the car, train, ship or plane, you should definitely consider something like Dramamine or gravol. It’s an antihistamine that works as a mild sedative. Take it 20-30 minutes before your trip to prevent nausea symptoms from emerging.
There are more powerful drugs used for chemotherapy and post-operative situations that are probably best left to individual medical practitioners to discuss with you.
Aside from trying any or all of the above strategies to relieve your nausea, there are a few other things you should do to avoid making yourself even more nauseous.
When you first get nauseous, don’t eat or drink anything for a couple of hours. Let your stomach settle down a little bit.
Second, your nausea may want you to heave at the site of food or drink. However, you need to avoid dehydration at all costs. This is especially true if you’re nausea is accompanied by diarrhea because of the flu or gastro. Replacing your lost fluids is essential to avoid a smaller health issue turning into a larger one.
Lastly, if your nausea continues, don’t hesitate to call your healthcare practitioner. As we mentioned above, nausea is a symptom, not an ailment itself. If your nausea persists, and it’s not obvious why, you should get it checked out by a doctor.