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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.
ICD-10 R11.
ICD-9 787.0

Nausea (Latin nausea, from Greek ναυσίη, nausiē, "seasickness" "wamble" [1]), is a sensation of unease and discomfort in the upper stomach with an urge to vomit.[2] An attack of nausea is known as a qualm.

The most common cause is gastroenteritis ( a stomach infection ) or food poisoning but nausea also frequently occurs as a medication side effect and in pregnancy. A number of medication exist that improve symptoms including: dimenhydrinate, metoclopramide, and ondansetron.



Nausea is the painless sensation of feeling like one is going to vomit.[2][3]

Differential diagnosis

The causes of nausea are many. One organization listed 700 in 2009.[4] Gastrointestinal infections (37%) and food poisoning are the two most common causes.[2][5] While side effects from medications (3%) and pregnancy are also relatively frequent.[2][5] In 10% of people the cause remains unknown.[5]

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.[3] It is due to toxins produced by bacteria in the food.[3]


Most medications can potential cause nausea.[3] Some of the most frequently associated include chemotherapy regimens and general anaesthetic agents.


Nausea or "morning sickness" is a common symptom of pregnancy. In the first trimester nearly 80% of women have some degree of nausea.[6] Pregnancy therefore should be considered in any women of child bearing age.[3] While usually it is mild and self limiting severe cases known as hyperemesis gravidarum may require treatment.[7]


A number of conditions involving balance such as motion sickness and vertigo can lead to nausea and vomiting.

Potentially serious

While most causes of nausea are not serious some serious causes do occur. These include: diabetic ketoacidosis, surgical problems (pancreatitis, small bowel obstruction,meningitis, appendicitis, cholecystitis), Addisonian crisis, and hepatitis among others.[2]

Diagnostic approach

Often no investigations are needed, however basic lab tests may be appropriate.[2] If a bowel obstruction is considered abdominal x-rays maybe useful.[2]


If the dehydration is present, rehydration with oral electrolyte solutions is preferred.[2] If this is not effective intravenous rehydration maybe required.[2]


Dimenhydrinate (gravol) is an inexpensive an effective medication for preventing postoperative nausea and vomiting.[8] In certain people cannabinoids may be effective in reducing chemotherapy associated nausea and vomiting.[9][10] Ondansetron (Zofran) is effective for nausea and vomiting however is expensive.[3] Pyridoxine or metoclopramide are the first line treatments for pregnancy related nausea and vomiting.[7]

Complementary medicine

Acupuncture is effective for the prevention of post operative nausea and vomiting.[11] The spices ginger and peppermint have been used for centuries as traditional remedies for nausea. Evidence, however, does not support gingers effectiveness in post op nausea and vomiting.[12] It however may be effective in pregnancy associated nausea and vomiting.[13]


While short-term nausea and vomiting are generally harmless, they may sometimes indicate a more serious condition. When associated with prolonged vomiting, it may lead to dehydration and/or dangerous electrolyte imbalances.


Nausea and or vomiting is the main complaint in 1.6% of visits to family physicians in Australia.[5] However only 25% of people with nausea visit their family physician.[2] It is most common in those 15 - 24 years old and less common in other ages.[5]


  1. ^ "Wamble definition - Medical Dictionary definitions of popular medical terms easily defined on MedTerms". 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Metz A, Hebbard G (September 2007). "Nausea and vomiting in adults--a diagnostic approach". Aust Fam Physician 36 (9): 688–92. PMID 17885699. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Scorza K, Williams A, Phillips JD, Shaw J (July 2007). "Evaluation of nausea and vomiting". Am Fam Physician 76 (1): 76–84. PMID 17668843. 
  4. ^ "Differential Diagnosis for Nausea". 
  5. ^ a b c d e Helena Britt (September 2007). "Presentations of nausea and vomiting". Aust Fam Physician 36 (9): 673–784. 
  6. ^ Koch KL, Frissora CL (March 2003). "Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy". Gastroenterol. Clin. North Am. 32 (1): 201–34, vi. PMID 12635417. 
  7. ^ a b Sheehan P (September 2007). "Hyperemesis gravidarum--assessment and management". Aust Fam Physician 36 (9): 698–701. PMID 17885701. 
  8. ^ Kranke P, Morin AM, Roewer N, Eberhart LH (March 2002). "Dimenhydrinate for prophylaxis of postoperative nausea and vomiting: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". Acta Anaesthesiol Scand 46 (3): 238–44. PMID 11939912. 
  9. ^ Tramèr MR, Carroll D, Campbell FA, Reynolds DJ, Moore RA, McQuay HJ (July 2001). "Cannabinoids for control of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting: quantitative systematic review". BMJ 323 (7303): 16–21. PMID 11440936. 
  10. ^ Drug Policy Alliance (2001). "Medicinal Uses of Marijuana: Nausea, Emesis and Appetite Stimulation". Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  11. ^ Lee A, Fan LT (2009). "Stimulation of the wrist acupuncture point P6 for preventing postoperative nausea and vomiting". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD003281. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003281.pub3. PMID 19370583. 
  12. ^ Betz O, Kranke P, Geldner G, Wulf H, Eberhart LH (February 2005). "[Is ginger a clinically relevant antiemetic? A systematic review of randomized controlled trials]" (in German). Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd 12 (1): 14–23. doi:10.1159/000082536. PMID 15772458. 
  13. ^ Chaiyakunapruk N, Kitikannakorn N, Nathisuwan S, Leeprakobboon K, Leelasettagool C (January 2006). "The efficacy of ginger for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting: a meta-analysis". Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 194 (1): 95–9. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2005.06.046. PMID 16389016. 

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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See also náusea







nausea (uncountable)

  1. A feeling of physical unwellness, usually with the desire to vomit.
  2. Strong dislike or disgust.
  3. Sea-sickness.

Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


Italian Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia it


nausea f. (plural nausee)

  1. nausea

Derived terms



  1. third-person singular present tense of nauseare
  2. second-person singular imperative of nauseare

Simple English

Nausea is a general feeling of unease and discomfort in the stomach, often with the urge to vomit. The word nausea comes from the Latin word for seasickness.[1]

Nausea is a symptom, rather than an illness or disease. The causes for it very often are not in the stomach itself, but somewhere else in the body. Nausea is often caused by a stomach virus. Nausea is usually harmless, in the short term. A good treatment for it can be not to take solid food (and to only drink non-alcoholic drinks, like water). Nausea can also occur during pregnancy, and is quite normal in that context.


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