3205 - Milano, Duomo - Giorgio Bonola - Miracolo di Marco Spagnolo (1681) - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto, 6-Dec-2007-cropped.jpg
A 1681 painting depicting a person vomiting

Nausea is an unpleasant, diffuse sensation of unease and discomfort, often perceived as an urge to vomit.[1] While not painful, it can be a debilitating symptom if prolonged, and has been described as placing discomfort on the chest, upper abdomen, or back of the throat.[2]

Like pain, the purpose of nausea is to discourage the person or animal from repeating whatever caused the unpleasantness. The memory of pain elicits safer or evasive actions; the memory of nausea elicits revulsion towards whatever was eaten before vomiting it up — even if it was not the cause of the nausea.[citation needed]

Nausea is a non-specific symptom, which means that it has many possible causes. Some common causes of nausea are gastroenteritis and other gastrointestinal disorders, food poisoning, motion sickness, dizziness, migraine, fainting and low blood sugar. Nausea is a side effect of many medications including chemotherapy, or morning sickness in early pregnancy. Nausea may also be caused by anxiety, disgust and depression.[1][3][4][5]

Medications taken to prevent and treat nausea are called antiemetics. The most commonly prescribed antiemetics in the US are promethazine, metoclopramide and the newer, extremely effective ondansetron. The word nausea is from Latin nausea, from Greek ναυσίαnausia,[6] "ναυτία" – nautia, motion sickness, "feeling sick or queasy".[7]


Gastrointestinal infections (37%) and food poisoning are the two most common causes of acute nausea and vomiting.[1] Side effects from medications (3%) and pregnancy are also relatively frequent.[1] There are many causes of chronic nausea.[1] 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.[8]


Gastrointestinal infection is one of the most common causes of acute nausea and vomiting.[1] 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.[1][9] Uncomplicated Helicobacter pylori infection does not cause chronic nausea.[1]

Food poisoning

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.[10] It is due to toxins produced by bacteria in food.[10]


Many medications can potentially cause nausea.[10] 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.[11] Pregnancy should therefore be considered as a possible cause of nausea in any women of child bearing age.[10] While usually it is mild and self-limiting, severe cases known as hyperemesis gravidarum may require treatment.[12]


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.[13]

Potentially serious

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,[14] carbon monoxide poisoning and many others.[1]

Comprehensive list

Inside the abdomen

Obstructing disorders

Enteric infections

Inflammatory diseases

Sensorimotor dysfunction


Outside the abdomen


Inner-ear diseases

Intracerebral disorders

Psychiatric illnesses


  • Post-operative vomiting[15]

Medications and metabolic disorders


Endocrine/metabolic disease


Other Languages
العربية: غثيان
Avañe'ẽ: Py'ajere
беларуская: Млоснасць
català: Nàusea
čeština: Nevolnost
Cymraeg: Cyfog
dansk: Kvalme
Deutsch: Übelkeit
español: Náusea
Esperanto: Vomemo
euskara: Goragale
فارسی: تهوع
français: Nausée
galego: Náusea
한국어: 구역질
հայերեն: Սրտխառնոց
Ido: Nauzeo
Bahasa Indonesia: Mual
italiano: Nausea
עברית: בחילה
Kiswahili: Kichefuchefu
Latina: Nausea
latviešu: Nelabums
lietuvių: Pykinimas
മലയാളം: ഓക്കാനം
Bahasa Melayu: Loya
Nederlands: Misselijkheid
नेपाल भाषा: बुलुबुलु
日本語: 吐き気
norsk nynorsk: Kvalme
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਕਚਿਆਣ
polski: Nudności
português: Náusea
română: Greață
Runa Simi: Wikch'unayay
русский: Тошнота
sicilianu: Nàusia
Simple English: Nausea
slovenčina: Nauzea
slovenščina: Slabost
српски / srpski: Мучнина
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Mučnina
svenska: Illamående
Tagalog: Nausea
தமிழ்: குமட்டல்
Türkçe: Bulantı
українська: Нудота
اردو: غثیان
Tiếng Việt: Buồn nôn
ייִדיש: איבל
粵語: 反胃
中文: 恶心