Stomach upset? Nauseous? Try this
Nausea goes by a lot of names. Tummy ache. Upset stomach. That queasy feeling.
Nausea is common and has lots of causes. Sometimes nausea is the result of poor food choices. Other times, it could be a warning of food poisoning, a heart attack, a migraine or morning sickness.
If you’re nauseous, that doesn’t always mean you have a serious medical problem. Most of the time, nausea isn’t serious. However, you should see a health care provider if you:
- Suspect you have food poisoning
- Have vomited for longer than 24 hours
- Have blood in your vomit
- Feel severe abdominal pain
- Have a headache and stiff neck
- Show signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, infrequent urination or dark urine
If you don’t have these symptoms and simply need an at-home nausea remedy, here are some suggestions:
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Use a cool mist humidifier or fan.
- Get some rest. Being tired can make nausea worse. After meals, rest sitting up for an hour.
- Stay hydrated. You may not feel thirsty, but getting fluids is important. Try small sips of cold, clear, carbonated drinks. Try using a straw. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Avoid strong odors. Smells like smoke, food and perfumes can make nausea worse.
- Try taking a short walk or doing relaxation exercises before eating.
- If you’ve been vomiting, try drinking small amounts of clear liquids every 15 minutes.
- For morning sickness, vitamin B6 may help. Follow your provider’s directions.
- Write down when nausea occurs and possible reasons (specific foods, events, surroundings) so you can adjust your diet or schedule.
Food might be the last thing you want to think about, but here are some tips for dealing with food and drink:
- Stay out of the kitchen during cooking. Have meals brought in or open a window during food prep.
- Drink liquids 30 to 60 minutes before or after meals.
- Don’t force yourself to eat your favorite foods when nauseous.
- Eat slowly in a relaxed, well-ventilated place.
- Try bland foods. Crackers or toast are easy to digest. You can try BRAT — bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.
- Eat more food at the time of day when you’re more comfortable eating. Many people find morning is best.
- Avoid fatty, greasy or fried foods, sweet candies, cookies and cakes, spicy or acidic foods, strongly flavored foods and gas-producing foods.
- Rinse your mouth before and after meals — and after vomiting.
Some people find relief from:
- Ginger: Ginger chews are easy to take, or try all-natural ginger ale (check the ingredients to ensure it includes ginger). Or chop up some fresh ginger root and make a tea using it.
- Peppermint: Try a cup of peppermint tea or suck on a mint candy.
- Suck on hard candy such as lemon drops, root beer barrels, candied ginger or peppermint between meals.
- Bitters and soda: Stir five or six drops of cocktail bitters in a cold glass of tonic, club soda or ginger ale.
- Tea, clear soups, flavored gelatin, Popsicles, ice cubes or nutrition supplements.
- Heating pad: Hold the warm pad against your stomach for temporary relief. The heat can help relax your muscles. Take care to not use it too long.
Every person is different. You may need to experiment to find the remedy that works best for you.
Take heart, most of the time that upset stomach will pass, and you will feel better. If you vomit more than twice a day, that’s the time to call your health care professional.
About the Author
Paula Carlton, NP is a Nurse Practitioner at Aurora Health Center in West Bend, WI.