Why Do I Feel Nauseous?

Common Causes of Nausea (and What to Do About It)

woman nauseous at sink

Artursfoto / Getty Images

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Nausea is the uneasy feeling you have when you are about to throw up. It can range in severity from uncomfortable to altogether intolerable. Vomiting is often the only way to feel relief. However, you can experience nausea without throwing up.

This article explains why nausea occurs and what you can do to find relief.

Nausea is a type of unpleasant abdominal discomfort with a distaste for food and an urge to vomit.

Why You Might Be Nauseous 

Causes of nausea are many, from early pregnancy to a stomach bug. Figuring out why you're nauseated is the first step to getting treatment and feeling better.

Consider these common culprits:

  • Hunger and/or thirst: Eating and drinking might help ease your nausea.
  • Pregnancy. Pregnancy and its hormonal upheaval are among the most common reasons for nausea. In fact, nausea and vomiting are some of the earliest symptoms. 
  • Stress: Anxiety and its triggers can cause stomach upset in some people.
  • Medication: Typically, nausea is a mild, temporary side effect of a prescription. However, if the nausea is unbearable, speak to your healthcare provider. Sometimes, nausea from medication results from improper use—for example, taking it without food when directed otherwise.
  • Motion sickness: Many people experience carsickness or seasickness.
  • Infections: Viral and bacterial illnesses can cause nausea.
  • Food poisoning. Undercooked, spoiled, or improperly handled foods and drinks can cause serious nausea and vomiting.

How to Treat Nausea 

Try these at-home remedies to relieve nausea:

  • Sip cold water. Drinking something cold may help settle your stomach and help prevent you from throwing up.
  • Drink ginger tea. Ginger has anti-nausea properties.
  • Get some fresh air. Stepping outside of a stuffy room can bring some relief.
  • Relieve your stress. Exercise, deep breathing, and other anxiety treatment strategies can help.
  • Avoid strong smells. These can cause or worsen nausea.

When to See a Doctor 

If home remedies don't bring relief, speak to a doctor. In most cases, nausea isn’t anything to worry about. Sometimes, however, nausea can signal an underlying condition, especially in combination with other symptoms.


Seek immediate medical attention if:

  • You feel nauseous after a head injury, which can be a sign of a concussion. 
  • If you feel pain or pressure in your chest, trouble breathing, and/or lightheadedness. These can be early signs of a heart attack, particularly in women.
  • If your nausea is severe, especially when accompanied by frequent vomiting.

A Word From Verywell 

Feeling nauseous from time to time usually isn't concerning and will probably pass. However, if you're constantly nauseated and none of the above remedies help, speak to a doctor—especially if the nausea is severe and/or accompanied by other symptoms such as headache, lightheadedness, and pain. 

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Singh P, Yoon SS, Kuo B. Nausea: a review of pathophysiology and therapeutics. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 2016;9(1):98-112.

  2. Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Nausea.

  3. Lete I, Allue J. The effectiveness of ginger in the prevention of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and chemotherapy. Integrative Medicine Insights. 2016;11:IMI.S36273.

  4. NHS UK. Feeling sick (nausea). May 12, 2021

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart attack symptoms, risk factors, and recovery. January 11, 2021

By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.