An unpleasant sensation vaguely referred to the epigastrium and abdomen, with a tendency to vomit. Nausea may be a symptom of a variety of disorders, some minor and some more serious.
Nausea is usually felt when nerve endings in the stomach and other parts of the body are irritated. The irritated nerves send messages to the center in the brain that controls the vomiting reflex. When the nerve irritation becomes intense, vomiting results.
Nausea and vomiting may be set off by nerve signals from many other parts of the body besides the stomach. For example, intense pain in almost any part of the body can produce nausea. The reason is that the nausea-vomiting mechanism is part of the involuntary autonomic nervous system. Nausea can also be precipitated by strong emotions.
Diet Modifications for Nausea and Vomiting
General Guidelines for Minimizing Nausea
- Smaller portions of foods that are low in fat seem to work best. These foods are easier to digest and move through the stomach faster. If you are eating smaller portions of low-fat foods, be sure to eat more often to meet your calorie and protein needs.
- Eat salty foods and avoid overly sweet ones, especially if you have been vomiting.
- If there are specific times when you know you are going to be nauseated or vomiting, do not eat foods that you really like. You may get turned off from these favorite foods by associating them with the nausea and vomiting.
- Clear, cool beverages are recommended. Take whatever you feel you can tolerate. Examples include clear soups, flavored gelatin, carbonated beverages, popsicles and ice cubes made of frozen drinks. (Note: when drinking with a straw, sip slowly to avoid swallowing air that can cause gas.)
- Sometimes the smell of foods cooking, especially greasy foods, can cause feeling of nausea. If you have problems with this, cold foods such as dairy products, sandwiches and fruits may help.
Minimizing Nausea When Eating
- Avoid liquids at mealtimes. Take them 30 to 60 minutes before and after eating.
- Do not lie down flat for at least two hours after eating.
- If the smell of food makes you nauseated, let someone else do the cooking or use prepared food from the freezer.
- Do not consume food in a room filled with cooking odors or in a warm, stuffy room.
- Eat meals slowly.
If nausea and vomiting continue to be a problem, talk with your doctor. If medication is prescribed, take it as directed.
Be aware that large amounts of vitamins, minerals and other supplements — such as herbal remedies, lecithin and algae — may cause additional nausea and vomiting.
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