Back to blog

What Happens to Your Body When You Feel Nauseous?

food poisoningbody oddmotion sicknesspregnancynauseaHealth & Wellness • 2 min read • Sep 29, 2016 12:00:00 AM • Written by: Kat Smith

Nausea is a common sensation, which is not itself a condition, but rather a sign of any number of different ailments. When you feel nauseated, you may have encountered an unpleasant smell, eaten food that didn’t agree with you, or been subject to motion and pressure changes. Each of these sensations can trigger your nervous system, causing you to feel like you might lose your lunch. So what exactly happens to your body when nausea sets in and how can you make yourself feel better? Here’s a closer look at the answer to this question about an unpleasantly familiar symptom.

How you sense nausea triggers

There are two centers in the brain that can trigger nausea symptoms. First is the chemoreceptor trigger zone (CTZ), which responds to chemical inputs from medication and hormones. It is this zone that sends signals to the digestive system should you take a medication that causes nausea or eat an illness-inducing food. When you feel motion sickness, you are experiencing a reaction in the area postrema, which occurs due to pressure and equilibrium changes that can make you feel off balance. Reactions in the aforementioned CTZ are more likely to lead to vomiting following nausea, as the body senses that a potentially harmful chemical is present in the digestive system.

What nausea can mean

Diagnosing the source of nausea can be difficult, because there are so many possible triggers. If you are in a car or other vehicle, motion sickness is likely to blame. Otherwise, you might think about foods you’ve eaten recently, new medications, and other environmental factors. Nausea is also associated with pregnancy, as morning sickness is one of the most common pregnancy complications. Interestingly, studies have indicated that nausea is a sign of a healthy pregnancy, since it signals higher hCG levels, which will help to prevent pregnancy loss.

How to relieve nausea

If you are nauseous and find yourself salivating excessively, you might be on the verge of vomiting. Not only does saliva assist in digestion, but it helps the process of expelling food or harmful substances by throwing up. It is possible to stop yourself from losing your lunch by spitting out the saliva rather than swallowing it. However, this might not be the best idea if you have contracted food poisoning or consumed too much alcohol, since your body does need to get rid of these toxins. When you have nausea induced by motion sickness, you will want to try and find a sense of balance, which can often be achieved by focusing on a still point far off in the horizon and getting fresh air if possible. For cases like morning sickness, nausea is often relieved through stomach soothing elixirs like ginger tea or crushed bananas.

Nausea is not often cause for a visit to the ER, but you might benefit from an urgent care consultation from home with MeMD. Our medical team is available any time to help you feel better faster – saving you the trip to your primary physician’s office or local ER.

Reach the World. Giving Made Easy with Impact.

Kat Smith