Updated: Jun 12, 2019
Increasingly, I have patients who suffer from a vague, persistent and uncomfortable feeling of nausea. Many times, these patients have a relatively healthy diet and lifestyle and are alarmed at the almost constant discomfort they are experiencing.
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 and seen a gastroenterologist and all your tests come back ‘normal’, then most likely you make a horrifying trip online to see how the internet will diagnose you.
Before you visit some frightening website that is short on useful information - here are 4 common causes of nausea.
Symptoms are the ‘fire alarm’ of the body, 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. If you are nauseous - finding out why and fixing the cause is the key to get permanent symptom resolution.
4 Common Causes of Chronic Nausea
1. A Stomach Problem
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.
2. 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 common digestive problems that can cause nausea.
3. 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 the symptoms of 'hidden' food allergies and sensitivities.
4. 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.
Remember that even though conventional test results can come back as ‘normal’ that doesn’t mean that there is not an underlying problem.