The best times are when I'm both hungry and nauseated. Double fun.
March 14, 2010 9:05 PM   Subscribe

I need help managing persistent nausea.

Within a few minutes of eating, I start to feel ill. This has been going on for weeks and is almost constant. There seem to be no "safe" foods or times of day. I have no idea what is causing this, and I know you can't diagnose me online. I have a doctor's appointment in two weeks.

My question is this: is there anything that I can do while I am waiting to see the doctor to get food in my body without making myself feel sick and miserable? I am losing weight, people are commenting that I look bad, and I fucking want to be able to eat food. This is also intensifying my already high anxiety.

I appreciate your help.
posted by prefpara to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you react the same way to liquids? Could you stomach something like Ensure? Or a smoothie with protein powder? How about clear broth?

I had some morning sickness, and my mother-in-law told me to eat some saltines before even getting out of bed in the morning. I dismissed it as just an old wives tale...but it worked.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:11 PM on March 14, 2010

Have you tried anti-nausea medicine (over the counter)? I find the cherry to be surprisingly delicious, even given the state of how I feel when I take it.
posted by quodlibet at 9:12 PM on March 14, 2010

Ginger is your friend. Capsules, candied ginger, fresh ginger tea with honey. These might all stabilize the nausea so you can eat. You might need to see if you can get to your doctor sooner.
posted by kch at 9:14 PM on March 14, 2010

As a stopgap while you wait to see a doctor, anything with ginger will help - ginger candy (the crystallized ginger candy at Trader Joe's is the BOMB for this), ginger tea, ginger ale. Or marijuana, if you live in a place where you can get it legally.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:15 PM on March 14, 2010

I felt like that before I got my acid reflux dealt with. I even vomited a couple of times. Can you take something like a Pepcid and see if it helps?
posted by sugarfish at 9:15 PM on March 14, 2010

You mentioned that you have high anxiety -- maybe this is preventing you from being able to eat? So, perhaps, you should get that dealt with first. I know I cannot eat when I am nervous.

I have a similar problem with nausea. I can feel sick from a range of things -- car rides with certain people driving to different temperatures/humidity/scent of the air outdoors. The smell of boiling red meat makes me want to just stop inhaling.

It's weird and random, but yeah.

When I feel nauseous but have to eat, I try to avoid anything bland, fried, fatty, greasy, dairy or overly sweet foods. The last thing I'd want is a disgusting layer of grease coating the inside of my stomach...

I find that I tend to feel better when I eat something sour/tart (like pickled veggies) or spicy -- anything that has a "kick."
posted by joyeuxamelie at 9:16 PM on March 14, 2010

Go to an urgent care facility or an ER. Can you keep water down? Do liquids cause bloating or other gastrointestinal discomfort? I ask because a friend of mine had similar symptoms and it was caused by intestinal blockage. IANAD, YMMV, etc.

According to your profile, you're in NYC, so you could go to DOCS, which is an urgent care facility. There's one on 23rd in Chelsea and one on 34th. There's usually a wait of a couple hours, but it beats the hell out of a wait of two weeks when you feel like puking all the time.
posted by bedhead at 9:17 PM on March 14, 2010

Ginger helps me. Ginger tea, ginger ale, or ginger tablets (in that order.) Yogi brand Ginger tea is the one I use. I also like peppermint tea, Celestial Seasonings Tummy mint is my other go to tea when I'm feeling nauseated.
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:17 PM on March 14, 2010

So many responses already! I feel comforted. bedhead, please be reassured that i do not have trouble keeping water down and um, do not think i am blocked.

I have some ginger peach tea which I will try consuming more frequently, and I will try the Pepcid.

joyeuxamelie, I agree that a very plausible explanation is that my anxiety is causing me to feel ill. If I knew how to be less anxious, believe me, I would turn that shit off like a switch. It is a long-term project for me, and for now I am stuck managing these symptoms.
posted by prefpara at 9:23 PM on March 14, 2010

Ah, in that case, ginger is great, and plain saltines always work for me when I have an upset stomach (a trick that I, like BlahLaLa, learned when I had morning sickness). I'd also try a BRAT diet, as those foods are pretty bland and shouldn't upset your stomach too much.
posted by bedhead at 9:34 PM on March 14, 2010

Any chance you're pregnant?
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:54 PM on March 14, 2010

I have/had anxiety issues - doing presentations in front of "important" people in the past, and both times quitting cigarettes with zyban/wellbutrin, I've had massive nausea issues. The wellbutrin seriously messes me up.

Gravol (you know, like, for car sickness) helped for anxiety. A few days ago, at the worst of the (smoking ceasation) side effects, I had to take 2 but I stopped needing to throw up bile/water/whatever-was-in-my-stomache. Still had all the other symptoms of wellburtrin and withdrawl, but it licked the nausea problem. After a couple of hours.

Hasn't been a detriment to my appetite.
posted by porpoise at 10:03 PM on March 14, 2010

smoke weed half an hour before it is time to eat.
posted by nadawi at 10:10 PM on March 14, 2010

2nd to try taking an over-the-counter antacid before eating.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:11 PM on March 14, 2010

I like ginger Altoids for anti-nausea more than the crystallized ginger candy or ginger chews - there's something about the stickiness of the latter that makes my nausea worse. The Altoids don't require much chewing. I keep a box in my glove compartment for random car sickness.

I had some pretty serious post-op nausea last year. They gave me Zofran for it when I was in the hospital, but wouldn't prescribe me any once I got home. So I took some Dramamine/Gravol. Worked a treat.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:18 PM on March 14, 2010

Zantac is another over-the-counter acid reducer (like Pepcid, I think). If you try it, make sure to take it on an empty stomach (like 15-30 minutes before breakfast and dinner). For some reason it works better that way, and know that it also takes a couple of days to work. Good luck. It's a crummy feeling.
posted by colfax at 10:20 PM on March 14, 2010

I used to have very frequent nausea. I kept a film canister with dried mint in my purse and would sniff it when I felt the nausea coming on. It was surprisingly effective.
posted by HotToddy at 10:21 PM on March 14, 2010

Ginger gravol tablets, and alcohol settle the stomach. They're what I take when I have to fly, and am surprisingly hungry enough to eat even airline food.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 10:21 PM on March 14, 2010

Ginger tea (double strong), peppermint tea (double strong). Try Dramamine?
posted by unknowncommand at 11:08 PM on March 14, 2010

I sympathise, I've lost almost 20 pounds over the last several months with very similar symptoms to yours. It's the most frustrating thing in the world to not be able to do something as simple as eating - I get jealous of people on tv eating fast food and watch cooking shows like they're porn.

I don't have any tips on managing it - my solution generally was just to not eat so that I could go about my day as normally as possible, which obviously doesn't work long-term. But after multiple doctor visits and lots of testing, the thing that has actually been working for me is anti-anxiety medication. I just wanted to share because I was pretty skeptical at first - I felt like my symptoms were so physical that there had to be a physical cause, and I never felt like I had the type of anxiety that needed to be treated with medication. But now that my body's had several weeks to adjust to the dosage, I can actually eat again, and it's pretty amazing.

Best of luck to you, I really hope you and your doctors are able to find a solution soon.
posted by Fifi Firefox at 11:10 PM on March 14, 2010

Also, two weeks is a long time! If you really feel bad, please see if you can't move up the appointment, go to the ER, or seek other urgent care.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:10 PM on March 14, 2010

Nausea was the first sign of danger. If you are still living in the place where the boiler was covering everything in your place with fine soot, get a detector and test thoroughly for carbon monoxide, because soot is one product of incomplete combustion, and carbon monoxide is another.

Even if you don't still live there, you might want to test for it.
posted by jamjam at 11:25 PM on March 14, 2010

You may want to try (assuming you have not already) much smaller portions with more meal-times.
posted by sundri at 1:23 AM on March 15, 2010

This sounds like something worth taking very seriously. I would call the doctor's office back and insist on being seen sooner.
posted by amtho at 8:01 AM on March 15, 2010

Along with ginger, candied tastes better than raw but you'd be surprised what you're willing to do to make the feeling go away. You might also want to try fennel, chew on the seeds or make a tea from them or, if you have a grocery store that sells Indian food you might be able to find ones that are sugar coated.
posted by squeak at 8:32 AM on March 15, 2010

I woke up, had most of a banana and a cup of ginger peach tea, and... feel sick. Miserable. I will pick up some candied ginger today and try that out. Am I understanding correctly that the antacids will take a few days to work? Are antacids safe to take, generally, if you're not sure what's going on?
posted by prefpara at 8:50 AM on March 15, 2010

Antacids are usually safe short term. I like baking soda as an antacid, because we keep it in the house anyway. Here are the directions (note: dosage, make sure it's dissolved before you take it, and don't take it if you need to stay low sodium).

The other thing is watch your position when/after you eat. Staying straight upright is a little awkward but keeps my stomach calmer.
posted by anaelith at 8:59 AM on March 15, 2010

Vitamin B6 helps some people, though it didn't help me when I last had the hideously-misnamed "morning sickness." What DID help was Unisom, though. Yeah, it's a sleeping pill, and it will make you sleepy, but what it really is is an antihistamine. For reasons that are difficult to divine, all the old-fashioned sleepy-style antihistamines are also very effective anti-nausea drugs. If ginger and saltines aren't doing it, try big doses of B6; if that doesn't work, try Unisom. If neither of THOSE work, there are prescription anti-nausea drugs (which are also antihistamines) like Reglan and Zofran.
posted by KathrynT at 9:12 AM on March 15, 2010

Have you tried less acidic foods, like just a few saltines or water crackers, or some (very lightly buttered if at all) toast? After that, if it sits well, maybe a little bit of mozzarella cheese (half of one of those packaged mozzarella sticks).

To drink, I usually have some cold mineral water (Gerolsteiner is awesome).

Fresh celery sometimes helps, too.

I can't eat fruit and tea first thing in the morning -- acidic foods tend to make (at least some kinds of) nausea worse. Eggs don't work at all, nor anything very greasy.
posted by amtho at 9:21 AM on March 15, 2010

You mention high anxiety. Have you suffered physical symptoms of anxiety in the past? About 2 years ago I started feeling both constantly nauseous and as though I were choking. It was anxiety, and clonazepam now keeps it under control. I'm not saying this is what is affecting you, but it's a thought.

I'll nth the ginger recommendation. I like to drop a few chunks of raw ginger into a cup of hot water or nibble some candied ginger. Peppermint is also good for nausea - tea, or a plain peppermint hard candy. I find Altoids make me feel worse.
posted by noxetlux at 11:03 AM on March 16, 2010

i would suggest ginger as well. the ginger in your tea may not be very strong. ginger steeped with honey in hot water is great. i hope you feel better soon!
posted by sucre at 7:37 PM on March 16, 2010

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