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Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Nausea

by Clara Wynn
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Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Nausea

Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Nausea

Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Nausea? We’re all familiar with stress-related nausea. It’s that queasy feeling we get when our stomachs flip-flop while on a roller coaster or during plane flights. But did you know that it can also be caused by other factors, such as illness? In fact, stress is one cause of cyclical vomiting syndrome (CVS), a rare but serious condition where people experience intense bouts of nausea and vomiting, typically lasting for days at a time.

Cyclical vomiting attacks are not to be confused with motion sickness, which usually kicks in within five minutes of beginning to move. Motion sickness is triggered by physical stimulation like changes in posture, speed, direction, acceleration, etc., whereas CVS patients feel nauseous even if their environment doesn’t change.

People who have experienced CVS describe the feeling as being similar to seasickness, with waves of nausea coming from different directions. These episodes may last anywhere from hours to months until they eventually subside [Source: Mayo Clinic].

Children under age 7 tend to experience more frequent episodes than older children and adults do. The frequency of these attacks varies widely among individuals; some people suffer from them only once a year, others go through multiple cycles each month. Attacks can be severe enough to require medical attention, including hospitalization. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, difficulty swallowing, dry heaving, coughing, wheezing and rashes. Some sufferers report having no symptoms at all.

The exact cause of CVS isn’t known yet, although there are several potential triggers. One theory suggests that people with this disorder have malfunctioning neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine. Dopamine plays an important role in controlling movement, learning and memory, pleasure and motivation. When its receptors aren’t working properly, it seems to interfere with signals sent between the brain stem and the gut, causing nausea. Another hypothesis suggests that people with CVS have hypersensitivity to gastric inhibitory peptides (GIP). GIP is released after eating, triggering hunger pangs. Those who suffer from CVS find themselves constantly hungry without any food in sight. A third possible explanation centers around intestinal motility disorders. People with this type of problem don’t empty their bowels regularly, so they end up suffering from constipation. This leads to increased pressure in the intestines, which causes nausea [Source: American Academy of Pediatrics].

To help relieve CVS symptoms, many doctors recommend using antihistamines, anticholinergic drugs, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants and corticosteroids. Patients should consider wearing loose-fitting clothing during attacks, especially shirts made of cotton. Drinking lots of fluids, particularly water, helps keep your body hydrated, which can make you feel less nauseated. Avoiding certain foods before meals can also reduce feelings of discomfort. If you suspect you have CVS, you should consult your doctor immediately.

In this article, we’ll explore how stress and anxiety can trigger nausea, as well as what kinds of treatment options exist. We’ll start with the most common form of nausea — morning sickness.

  • Morning Sickness
  • Treating Morning Sickness
  • Anxiety and Nausea
  • Migraines and Vomiting
  • Morning Sickness

If you’ve ever been pregnant, then you understand what morning sickness feels like. You wake up suddenly, heart pounding, thinking you might vomit. Your head feels fuzzy, and you feel weak, shaky and lightheaded. Then you realize you haven’t eaten anything since breakfast. What happened?

Most women will experience some form of morning sickness during pregnancy. The average woman suffers through about three weeks’ worth of nausea, but those who endure longer periods could face complications related to dehydration, low blood sugar levels and malnutrition. Most cases improve dramatically after giving birth. However, some women never fully recover [Source: WebMD].

There are two types of morning sickness: anticipatory and concurrent. Anticipatory refers to the nausea felt before getting out of bed in the morning, while concurrent means nausea comes on along with other symptoms like headache, fatigue and bloating. Women who develop concurrent morning sickness are more likely to need urgent medical care compared to those who suffer exclusively from anticipatory sickness. Those with both forms of nausea are also more likely to experience depression, mood swings and insomnia.

Morning sickness affects both expectant mothers and menopausal women. Menopausal women suffer from hot flashes, night sweats and other unpleasant side effects associated with hormonal fluctuations. Pregnant women with chronic illnesses like diabetes are also susceptible to morning sickness because their conditions become worse with nausea. For example, diabetics must carefully monitor their blood glucose levels throughout their pregnancies to avoid dangerous hypoglycemia. Diabetic women who eat poorly, drink too much alcohol or smoke cigarettes are also at higher risk of developing morning sickness.

Some medications can aggravate the symptoms of morning sickness. Alcohol consumption increases the chance of nausea and vomiting, as does smoking, taking beta-blockers, iron supplements, aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and barbiturates. Medications used to treat high blood pressure and migraines can also lead to nausea. Finally, grapefruit juice, citrus fruit juices and black tea contain compounds called furanocoumarins, which can induce morning sickness as well.

For pregnant women who want relief, try avoiding caffeinated beverages and limit alcohol intake. Take multivitamins containing vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc and folate to alleviate nausea. Ask your physician about acupressure bands, acupuncture treatments, herbal remedies and ginger capsules. Consult your pharmacist for over-the-counter alternatives like peppermint oil, chamomile tea and ginger ale.

Antiemetics are prescription drugs designed to prevent vomiting, and there are several brands available. They work by blocking receptors in the central nervous system that control vomiting. Two popular ones are domperidone and metoclopramide. Aspirin has long been used to relieve morning sickness, but recent studies show that it may actually worsen it. Instead, ask your doctor about acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.

When treating migraine pain, physicians sometimes prescribe medication for nausea as well. To learn more about managing migraine pain, see the next page.
Although nausea is uncomfortable, it’s hardly life-threatening. About 20 percent of pregnant women will experience nausea, but none of them will die from it. That said, it would be nice if it disappeared quickly! Unfortunately, it takes a few hours for the signal from the gastrointestinal tract to reach the brain. So, in the meantime, here are some things to try:

Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Try chewing gum, sucking hard candies or drinking ginger ale instead of soda pop or coffee.

Avoid fatty, greasy or spicy foods. Foods rich in tyramine, like aged cheeses and pickled herring, can cause an increase in blood pressure and result in hypertension. Hypertension is bad news for pregnant women, especially those whose mothers suffered from gestational hypertension.

Try exercising. Exercising reduces the amount of serotonin floating around your bloodstream, which can calm your nerves.

Keep yourself entertained. Reading, knitting and listening to music can distract you from the discomfort.

Take deep breaths. Deep breathing relaxes muscles and stimulates the relaxation response.

Treating Morning Sickness

How can someone fight off morning sickness? There are dozens of homeopathic remedies sold in health stores, but most won’t provide relief. With this in mind, experts recommend following a healthy diet and lifestyle. Eat small, nutritious snacks throughout the day, and stay away from junk food. Limit caffeine and cut down on alcohol consumption. Drink lots of fluids, and avoid processed foods and sugary drinks. Don’t skip meals. Keep your daily caloric intake below 1,200 calories per day. Exercise gently, take walks outside, breathe fresh air, and wear loose comfortable clothes. Get adequate sleep, and spend time with family and friends.

One effective alternative medicine is acupuncture, which dates back thousands of years. Acupuncture works by inserting thin metal needles into specific energy channels throughout the body, called meridians. According to Chinese medicine theory, disease occurs due to blocked Qi, or vital energy, traveling along these pathways. By inserting needles into these points, acupuncturists unblock the flow of energy, allowing the patient to heal naturally.

Another technique involves acupressure bands. Made of rubberized fabric, these devices apply gentle pressure to sensitive areas along with the limbs and torso. Users place the device over the area where they want to stimulate, say, the liver, and leave it there for 15 minutes. Afterward, they massage the band itself for another 10 minutes. Although research regarding the effectiveness of acupressure bands is lacking, anecdotal evidence shows positive results.

Herbal remedies are also commonly used to reduce nausea and vomiting. Chamomile tea contains a chemical compound called apigenin, which may block prostaglandins, chemicals produced in the digestive process. Apigenin prevents prostaglandins from attaching to nerve cells in the lining of the stomach and duodenum. Ginger root contains bio.

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