Check a Symptom
Nausea and Vomiting
Abdominal pain and nausea or vomiting can occur due to a large number of causes. If your pain is severe, seek immediate medical care.
If nausea or vomiting is your most prominent symptom and your abdominal pain is mild, one of the common conditions listed below is likely.
Remember, repeated episodes of nausea and vomiting can arise from a variety of medical causes, including some serious conditions. Unexplained nausea and vomiting that persists for longer than five days requires evaluation by a health care professional. Vomiting can deplete you of fluids and electrolytes, so repeated vomiting requires medical treatment if it results in a lasting lightheaded feeling or weakness. Please take the time today to arrange a medical evaluation, if you have not already done so.
Abdominal discomfort after eating can occur even if digestion is occurring normally. When you do not have a true medical problem yet you have symptoms of pain, nausea or vomiting, belching or sensitivity to specific foods, indigestion is occurring. Indigestion can be improved if you limit fat in your diet, if you limit foods such as beans and certain vegetables and fiber-rich foods that trigger gas formation, and possibly if you take anti-acid medicines.
Acid Reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease -- GERD)
Most people who have acid reflux experience burning behind the breastbone (heartburn), but some experience upper abdominal pain, chest heaviness, nausea, or vomiting.
Peptic Ulcer Disease
An ulcer is an open sore in the lining of the stomach or duodenum. An ulcer commonly causes pain that may be diminished after eating. If the tissue around an ulcer is inflamed and swollen, it is common for this swelling to result in nausea or vomiting, particularly after a meal.
Pain and nausea or vomiting from gallstone disease typically occurs several hours after a meal, since contractions of your gallbladder are strongest following your initial stages of digestion.
Gastritis is irritation resulting in a "raw" stomach. The stomach can be irritated by medicines, alcohol, or an infection (usually a virus). Avoidance of alcohol and spicy or acidic foods may be helpful, and anti-acid medicines may also help.
A viral infection that primarily affects your stomach and intestinal tract is known as gastroenteritis. This condition is sometimes referred to as "the stomach flu." Many different viruses can cause gastroenteritis. Most of them also cause diarrhea, but that symptom can begin later than nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
A complication that occurs most commonly in people with type 1 diabetes is ketoacidosis. This is an emergency that results when the body has too little insulin, or when insulin is made much less effective due to a severe illness or infection. The liver manufactures substances named ketones when insulin is inadequate or ineffective, and ketones result in nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Ketoacidosis is life-threatening because it is associated with profound dehydration.
Inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can result from gallstone disease, alcohol abuse, and medications, among other causes. It causes abdominal pain in the central or upper abdomen and pain in the back.
Dysmenorrhea (Painful Menses)
If you are a woman and you are in the first few days of your menstrual period, your nausea or vomiting and abdominal pain may be caused by hormone shifts that are a normal part of the menstrual cycle.
Source: from the Harvard Health Publications Family Health Guide, Copyright © 2007 by President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.
Used with permission of StayWell.
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