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How To Treat Nausea

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Updated June 05, 2014

pregnant woman with morning sickness
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Nausea is the feeling of having to vomit. Pregnancy, vertigo, motion sickness, digestive infections (such as food poisoning), reactions to medication and alcohol are probably the most common causes of nausea, but there are many others.

The best way to fix nausea is to fix the problem causing it. If the victim is getting motion sickness from a ride in the car - stop the car. If alcohol caused the nausea, don't drink anymore alcohol.

Since you can't "cure" pregnancy, and you can't do much for many of the other causes of nausea, here are a few things you can do to try reducing nausea.

Here's How:

  1. Slow, deep breaths
    There are a few studies indicating that inhaling the fumes of isopropyl alcohol calm the feelings of nausea. However, when isopropyl alcohol was compared to saline - saline doesn't have a smell - both helped ease feelings of nausea equally well. The authors suggested, and I tend to agree, that it was the deep, slow breathing that really made the patients feel better. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Repeat.
  2. Take vitamin B6 or ginger supplements
    Ginger is emerging as a pretty good anti-nausea treatment. Vitamin B6 also has had some success. There's not yet enough information to say whether ginger or vitamin B6 are safe in pregnancy (especially for the baby). For everyone else, it appears that ginger (at least 1,000 milligrams or 1 gram) or vitamin B6 (10 milligrams) are worth a try.

     

  3. Take over-the-counter anti-nausea medications
    Antihistamines - usually used for allergies - are pretty good anti-nausea medications, and a few are sold strictly for that purpose. Two other classes of anti-nausea medicines are also available.

     

  4. See the doctor
    Your physician may be able to help you if steps 1-3 don't work. Pregnant women should work very closely with their doctors to determine which treatments are both effective and safe for mother and baby (see tip #1).

     

Tips:

  1. Pregnant women should be very careful about taking any type of medication or dietary supplement to control nausea and vomiting. It's very hard to test medications during pregnancy, since the effects could be permanent and devastating. Because of that, little evidence exists to show how safe certain medications are for pregnancy.
  2. Food poisoning causes vomiting for a reason. It is the body's way of emptying the stomach of the offending bacteria. For the first 24 hours at least, vomiting from food poisoning should just happen. Anti-nausea medications usually don't work on food poisoning anyway. If vomiting doesn't stop after 24 hours, victims of food poisoning may need to see a doctor. Too much uncontrolled vomiting can lead to dehydration.

     

  3. Sources:

    Anderson, L.A., and J.B. Gross. "Aromatherapy with peppermint, isopropyl alcohol, or placebo is equally effective in relieving postoperative nausea." Journal of perianasthesia nursing. Feb 2004

    Chaiyakunapruk, N., et al. "The efficacy of ginger for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting: a meta-analysis." American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. Jan 2006

    Pongrojpaw, D., C. Somprasit and A. Chanthasenanont. "A randomized comparison of ginger and dimenhydrinate in the treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy." Journal of the medical association of Thailand. Sep 2007

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