On the flip side, it’s possible to feel nauseous because you suddenly ate a large amount of food. If you think this is why you’re feeling nauseous, you can try home remedies like over-the-counter stomach upset medications5.
3. You might need to drink some water.
Feeling nauseous might just be your unsettled stomach telling you to serve yourself some more H20. And we’re not talking about day-in-the-desert-without-water dehydrated. For some people, even mild dehydration could cause stomach trouble, Dr. Wexler says.
You’ll probably know if dehydration is causing your nausea if you also feel, well, really thirsty. So if that’s the case, drink up. Usually, plain water is fine, says Dr. Wexler. But if you have signs of severe dehydration—like fatigue, dizziness, or confusion—seek medical attention right away.
Also worth noting: The dehydration and low blood sugar that can come along with hangovers may cause nausea too.
4. It might be your medications.
Plenty of medications—even supplements and over-the-counter meds—can leave you feeling nauseous. Sometimes, popping an over-the-counter pain reliever (like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or an NSAID) on an empty stomach can actually cause you to feel nauseous. Without some food in your belly to act as a buffer, the components of some pills can be irritating to the lining of the stomach, Dr. Wexler says. Supplements like vitamins C, E, and iron can have a similar effect.
If it’s been more than an hour or two since your last meal, you can keep discomfort at bay by eating something small. “Often, just a piece of bread or a few crackers will suffice,” Dr. Wexler says. Just be sure to have your snack before you take your vitamins or meds, so it can coat your stomach. Eating afterward won’t usually help, says Dr. Wexler.
5. It might be a migraine.
As if migraines weren’t bad enough, they can also cause some people to feel nauseous. Experts don’t fully understand why a migraine can leave you feeling like you have to hurl. What they do know? Migraines can cause dizziness and blurry vision, which can make you nauseous.
If you feel a migraine coming on, taking an OTC pain reliever might help, says Dr. Arthur. (Just be sure to have it with a small snack like crackers. And drink plenty of water, since dehydration can make headaches and nausea worse.) And if OTC pain meds don’t work, talk with your doctor. They can prescribe prescription migraine meds that may be more helpful.
6. It could be a stomach bug.
Fingers crossed this isn’t the case, but it’s worth discussing as a potential cause behind feeling nauseous. There are two main health issues that are important to know here: food poisoning and stomach flu. Food poisoning happens when your GI tract gets irritated or infected due to contaminated food or drinks6. The stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, specifically happens when a virus infects your GI system7. Either way, nausea is a common symptom of both of these issues, along with other signs of upset like diarrhea and abdominal cramping.
7. It might be an ear infection.
This one might be surprising, but if you feel pressure in your ear along with nausea, it could be an ear infection. Good news: That’s totally treatable. The canals in your inner ears play an important role in helping you maintain your balance. But an infection can cause changes to the normal fluid levels in one ear, Dr. Arthur says. When that happens, your brain gets a signal that the pressure in your infected ear is different than the pressure in your healthy ear. And those mixed signals can leave you feeling nauseous and dizzy.