I often see patients who suffer from a vague, persistent and uncomfortable feeling of nausea.
Their symptoms can last for a few minutes a day, to a few hours, to nearly all the time. Often, these patients have a relatively healthy diet and lifestyle and are understandably alarmed and confused at their nausea with seemingly no cause.
Since nausea can be a sign of a more serious problem, it is essential that you see your doctor to rule out any serious condition.
If, however, you are a person who has been to your primary doctor, seen a gastroenterologist and all your tests come back ‘normal’, then most likely you make a horrifying trip online to see what the internet will diagnose you with.
But before you visit another terrifying website that is short on useful information - here are a few common things that could cause persistent nausea.
The first thing you should know is that symptoms are the ‘fire alarm’ of the body. They are the signal that something is not right.
Pain, fever, fatigue, nausea - these are all signs that your body is dealing with something.
Merely taking a symptom-suppressing pill will only mask the process that is happening in your body. It will not stop the process itself.
Common Causes of Nausea
Low Stomach Acid
Nausea, Heartburn and Acid Reflux can all be signs of low stomach acid.
Low Stomach acid can be caused by poor diet, nutrient deficiencies, overeating, stress, bacteria or leftover food
Liver / Gallbladder Problem
Usually occurs after a meal with a substantial amount of fat - but can occur with any type of food
May indicate a bile flow problem
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease may be a factor
Hidden Food Sensitivity
Nausea is a symptom of a hidden food sensitivity.
Other symptoms include migraines, joint pain, fatigue, & sinus pain
Food sensitivity symptoms can have delayed onset - minutes or days later.
Low Stomach Acid
The first place to look if your stomach is upset is, unsurprisingly, your stomach. Your stomach function is not uniform throughout your life. It is not even consistent throughout the week.
I am sure you have noticed when you have overindulged in a dessert with too much sugar or have had a large meal, and it felt like your stomach did not ‘empty’ as it usually should.
Many factors can cause a decrease in stomach acid which would make digesting food progressively harder. About 90% of those who have been diagnosed with acid reflux or heartburn are experiencing the repercussions of persistent low stomach acid.
When your stomach acid is chronically low - whether it is from ongoing stress, a poor diet, missing essential nutrients (zinc, mineral salts, potassium) bacteria or leftover food - it can create a corrosive acid, causing heartburn and other GERD related symptoms.
Low stomach acid can lead to a persistent feeling of nausea even a long time after eating.
Liver or Gallbladder Problem
Other times, when a person feels nauseous, the cause of their discomfort is a liver or gallbladder problem. Bile is made in the liver and is critical for digestion. When bile flow is impaired, nausea can be the result.
In this case, symptoms would worsen after eating a meal with a significant amount of fat and, in some cases, people can experience nausea with almost any type of food.
The typical liver blood test will only detect significant damage in the liver and will miss a ’slow' or 'stagnant' liver problem.
Also, fatty liver disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) often goes undiagnosed and is very common. This condition affects the entire liver and all of its functions including both it's digestive and detoxification responsibilities which can undoubtedly cause nausea.
Read more about Digestive Problems
A 'Hidden' Food Allergy or Sensitivity
Another cause of persistent nausea could be a ‘hidden’ food allergy. People are generally familiar with the anaphylaxis reactions of a severe food allergy (like a peanut allergy) - but are less familiar with food sensitivity symptoms.
These symptoms can include chronic joint pain, recurrent migraines, headaches, sinus pain - and persistent nausea. Many of these sensitivities are never diagnosed as they can be difficult to confirm using traditional testing.
It is vital to document your symptoms, have them reviewed by a doctor and, in some cases, use advanced food sensitivity tests.
Read more about Food Sensitivities
Blood Sugar Problems
Another possible cause of nausea is persistent hypoglycemia / low blood sugar. Even if you have eaten, your body could be having a hard time using the nutrients for fuel.
As a result, your blood sugar continues to stay low which can cause nausea-like symptoms.
What You Can Do
Remember that even though conventional test results can come back as ‘normal’ that doesn’t mean that there is not an underlying problem.
Functional medicine testing can pinpoint many hidden imbalances that are usually missed by conventional testing. Using non-pharmaceutical treatments, I can usually reduce or eliminate symptoms of nausea quickly.
I have seen patients suffer from nausea from many more causes than the ones outlined above, don't guess when it comes to new symptoms, always get them checked out.
If you are experiencing symptoms, make sure you see a doctor to get to the source of your pain so that you can rebalance the body, restore your health and eliminate your symptoms.
Having trouble finding a doctor who will address your nausea or other health concern? I offer Free 15 Minute Consultations in which you can ask me questions about nausea, functional medicine and how I can help you.