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Why Do I Feel Like Throwing Up, but I Don't?

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Many factors can make your stomach churn. It is a common and often bad sensation that many people experience. If you know you’re not pregnant and you didn’t eat anything bad, you may be wondering why you are feeling nauseous. Nausea is a sickening feeling that ranges from uncomfortable to unbearable. Nausea occurs right before dry heaving or vomiting. Read below for possible causes for your nausea, and what you can do for some relief.

Experiencing any digestive issues?

One main reason someone may feel nauseous without vomiting is related to digestive issues. If you’re experiencing indigestion, acid reflux or even an upset stomach can trigger nausea. Your body’s attempt to soothe or flush out the irritants may cause discomfort and won’t always result in vomiting, which leaves you with persistent nausea.

Are you hungry?

Your blood sugar levels drop when you go too long without eating. When your blood sugar gets too low, you may feel nausea and dizziness. Avoid any foods that are sweet, greasy, fried or sweet, as these may worsen nausea. Try more natural remedies such as ginger or peppermint tea or bland foods such as bread or crackers to help ease the feeling of nausea.

Are you constantly losing sleep?

If you’re experiencing sleep deprivation issues like jet lag or insomnia, your body’s neuroendocrine response could lead to nausea. A neuroendocrine response is the interaction between the nervous system and the endocrine system. It involves the release of hormones into the blood by certain cells in response to stimulation from the nervous system. Sleep promotes good health. It’s the fuel of life. If you’re having trouble sleeping, check out our tips to falling asleep here.

Thirsty? Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

It may sound simple, but if you’re dehydrated you may feel nauseous. Even mild dehydration could make your stomach feel queasy as the body attempts to signal an imbalance. Inadequate fluid intake or excessive loss of fluids through sweating or vomiting from a previous illness can lead to nausea. You should drink at least 12 8-ounce glasses of water every day to overcome being dehydrated. Not big on drinking water? Try orange juice, clear fruit drinks, electrolyte replacement and sports drinks. Addressing dehydration promptly may alleviate the queasy feeling before it progresses to vomiting.

Do you have a migraine?

Nausea is a common symptom associated with migraines. While some people may experience vomiting during a migraine episode, others may only endure the nauseous sensation. The mix of brain and blood vessel issues during migraines can trigger this discomfort.

Did you medicate on an empty stomach?

Sometimes taking simple over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil, Ibuprofen or Tylenol on an empty stomach could leave you feeling nauseous. Whether it’s prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or even supplements, the body may react with nausea as a response to the medicines. Any time you take an over-the-counter medicine, be sure to have small snack like crackers with it and drink plenty of water.

Are you anxious or stressed?

The emotions of stress, excitement and anxiety are common. Nausea may be related to a stressful event, like an upcoming presentation or a big meeting. The body’s “fight or flight” response can trigger digestive changes, leading to a queasy sensation. The nausea may persist as a lingering effect of stress without progressing to vomiting. Reducing stress is crucial for performing and feeling your best. Here are a few strategies to help you manage your stress and anxiety:

  • Preparation is key. Prepare for your event. If you have a meeting or presentation, know your material inside and out to help boost your confidence and reduce anxiety. Anticipate potential questions and rehearse your key points. If you have upcoming travel, create an itinerary and do your research.
  • Picture your success. Imaging yourself succeeding in the meeting or having a successful trip.
  • Practice controlled breathing. Incorporate deep breathing exercises to calm your nervous system. You can help reduce physiological stress responses by practicing slow deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
  • Practice progressive muscle relaxation. Start by tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups, working your way from your toes to your head. This technique promotes overall relaxation.

Are you experiencing motion sickness?

It happens when your brain is confused about your body’s movement and is a common culprit for nausea without vomiting. Riding in a car often causes motion sickness. Your eyes and ears send signals to your brain that you are moving, but your inner ear the helps you stay balanced tell your brain that you aren’t moving. These mixed signals can lead to a sense of disorientation and queasiness. While the body initiates the nauseous response, vomiting may not necessarily follow. Try to sit where you get the smoothest ride and look out into the distance to calm the feeling. In a car, this is often the front seat, while on a plane, sitting over the wings can provide a more stable ride. By focusing on the horizon, your eyes and inner ear (responsible for balance) will be able to synchronize and can reduce the conflicting signals that lead to motion sickness. It’s also important to avoid reading, get fresh air by opening windows or air vents, stay hydrated and practice deep, slow breathing to keep your nervous system calm. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold for a few seconds and exhale slowly through your mouth.

Are you pregnant?

Nausea without vomiting is a hallmark symptom of morning sickness during pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, your body experiences hormonal changes and increased sensitivity. Smells can trigger nausea, yet vomiting may not always accompany this sensation. If you’re an expectant mother, it’s important to know the side effects. Ochsner Health offers several resources to help with these side effects and makes pregnancy easier.

Diet and lifestyle factors also cause nausea.

Many other factors may cause nausea. If you experience nausea in the morning, your diet or lifestyle may be a causing factor. The following may help:

  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding large unhealthy meals before bed
  • Sticking to a regular sleep schedule
  • Eat a small meal in the morning

When should you see a doctor?

If you have ruled out pregnancy and the problem of nausea persists, see your doctor. Severe, ongoing nausea could be a sign of a serious condition.

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