Gastrointestinal infections (37%) and food poisoning are the two most common causes of acute nausea and vomiting. Side effects from medications (3%) and pregnancy are also relatively frequent. There are many causes of chronic nausea. Nausea and vomiting remain undiagnosed in 10% of the cases. Aside from morning sickness, there are no gender differences in complaints of nausea. After childhood, doctor consultations decrease steadily with age. Only a fraction of one percent of doctor visits by those over 65 are due to nausea.
Gastrointestinal infection is one of the most common causes of acute nausea and vomiting. Chronic nausea may be the presentation of many gastrointestinal disorders, occasionally as the major symptom, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, functional dyspepsia, gastroparesis, peptic ulcer, celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, Crohn's disease, hepatitis, upper gastrointestinal malignancy, and pancreatic cancer. Uncomplicated Helicobacter pylori infection does not cause chronic nausea.
Food poisoning usually causes an abrupt onset of nausea and vomiting one to six hours after ingestion of contaminated food and lasts for one to two days. It is due to toxins produced by bacteria in food.
Many medications can potentially cause nausea. Some of the most frequently associated include cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens for cancer and other diseases, and general anaesthetic agents. An old cure for migraine, ergotamine, is well known to cause devastating nausea in some patients; a person using it for the first time will be prescribed an antiemetic for relief if needed.
Nausea or "morning sickness" is common during early pregnancy but may occasionally continue into the second and third trimesters. In the first trimester nearly 80% of women have some degree of nausea. Pregnancy should therefore be considered as a possible cause of nausea in any women of child bearing age. While usually it is mild and self-limiting, severe cases known as hyperemesis gravidarum may require treatment.
A number of conditions involving balance such as motion sickness and vertigo can lead to nausea and vomiting.
Nausea may be caused by depression, anxiety disorders and eating disorders.
While most causes of nausea are not serious, some serious conditions are associated with nausea. These include: pancreatitis, small bowel obstruction, appendicitis, cholecystitis, hepatitis, Addisonian crisis, diabetic ketoacidosis, increased intracranial pressure, Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension, brain tumors, meningitis, heart attack, carbon monoxide poisoning and many others.
Inside the abdomen
Outside the abdomen
- Post-operative vomiting
Medications and metabolic disorders