My tummy hurts, fix it.
July 31, 2008 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Why am I constantly nauseous?

Sorry this is so long.

I constantly have stomachaches. Sometimes they are remain in the back of my mind, not really an issue; other times they are enormously present. I don't vomit often (up until a few months ago, I hadn't vomited since first grade), but they can be debilitating.

I am 19 years old, female, in good health (I thought ...). I exercise daily (about an hour each day, weights and cardio). Normal weight. I eat a fairly normal diet, no diet sodas (although one Coke a day), no liquor, no smoking, as few processed sugars as possible.

I've always been prone to nausea; I remember many nights sitting in restroom bathrooms trying not to throw up. It's pretty much died down until about three months ago.

Background information: about a year ago, I was diagnosed with teeny tiny gall stones. To be entirely honest, I can't remember why I was given an ultrasound to test for gall stones -- I was probably having stomach problems then, too -- but there were no more issues afterward and the diagnose was somewhat forgotten. The doctor said they were tiny stones, "nothing to be worried about."

I don't know what nausea feels like for other people (obviously) but for me it always comes with a strange, full, almost burning-like feeling in the back of the throat. It will usually die down when I burp; the worst incidents seem to be when I cannot burp and it just builds up and builds up.

Continuing on, about three months ago, on the night before I came home from school, I got ridiculously nauseous and threw up, which freaked me out because I had never thrown up before. Since then, it's been on and off, usually intensely so about once every week or two.

I am generally always slightly nauseous, but the painful, debilitating nausea always occurs in the evening, after I have eaten 3 meals and gone to the gym. As far as I can tell, there are no distinct patterns that indicate when it will be a bad evening; it usually hits full-force about 10:30 p.m.

Other possibly affecting factors:

* It seems to be heightened when I sit in an uncomfortable position at the computer (I used to use the computer at my bed, now I have a desk -- the frequency of the "bad" incidents has gone down since).
* I have some eyesight problems that give me headaches (I can't explain it well -- I have 20/20 vision but I need a heavy prism in my glasses for reading). I am not perfect about wearing my glasses.
* I hesitate to mention this, because it will instantly lead to "anxiety" diagnoses: the stomachaches increase when I am anxious. But that does not mean I don't get them when I'm not.

I went to the doctor a few days ago, who said something about acid and the lining of my stomach and prescribed me Prevacid. The first day taking the medicine (last night) I got extremely nauseous and went to bed early.

Hopefully this will work, but I'm not too optimistic. The doctor also mentioned ulcers and gall bladder problems as potential sources. For some reason, she didn't remember my gall bladder ultrasound, but didn't change her diagnosis when I mentioned it. I have another appointment next week, and if the Prevacid doesn't help I would like to have other tangible options to bring to her attention.

So, hive mind, help me. I know YANAD, but if you have been in a similar situation or have any ideas what may be causing the problems, let me know so I have an idea of what I would like to discuss with her. Ulcers? Gall bladder issues? Possible allergies (I currently am not knowledgeably allergic to anything)?

Oh, and I'm definitely not pregnant.
posted by elisabethjw to Health & Fitness (18 answers total)
How are you with milk and gluten?
posted by phunniemee at 8:09 PM on July 31, 2008

Response by poster: As far as I know, fine -- as in, I have no allergies I know of. I have entertained this possibility -- is there a test for this or a way to find out I have a milk/gluten allergy (uh, besides not imbibing them, which I certainly could do)?

I don't drink much milk but I do eat a lot of gluten.
posted by elisabethjw at 8:11 PM on July 31, 2008

Sounds like GERD to me. So, in other words, what the doctor said.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:11 PM on July 31, 2008

Perhaps too simplistic:

Are you taking vitamins? Taking many vitamins makes me acutely nauseous if I don't eat adequately before I take them.
posted by lottie at 8:13 PM on July 31, 2008

Response by poster: No, actually I stopped taking vitamins because they were making the nausea worse.
posted by elisabethjw at 8:14 PM on July 31, 2008

I feel your pain. I call it my faux-morning sickness, because I've had it for going on five years now. My experience is similar to yours-- general stomach unease that sometimes gets really bad (early morning for me). I had a whole slew of tests (stomach dump, endoscopy, gallbladder squeeze) and the doctors never found anything (they never even felt like GERD or IBS was the answer).

Nevertheless, treating it as acid reflux has helped me alleviate a lot of the trouble (by treating, I mean lifestyle changes, I stopped taking the meds). I used to down several liters of diet coke everyday, now I avoid aspartame like the plague (a practice strongly approved by a doctor later). I avoid eating a lot of heavy, fatty foods as they lead to late night discomfort, and I do have to be careful about how I sit at the computer. Now that I do all that, I only have really bad symptoms when I'm nervous. If you ever figure out how to stop a nervous stomach, please share. Just keep trying variations on your diet and see what works for you. Good luck!
posted by parkerjackson at 8:19 PM on July 31, 2008

There's a product called sea bands for seasickness; they sold it for pregnancy-related morning sickness, too. It's supposed to work on an acupressure point. Not expensive and no side effects.
posted by theora55 at 8:25 PM on July 31, 2008

Sounds GERDish, yes.

I added more fiber to my diet and that's mostly gone away for me. YMMV.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:30 PM on July 31, 2008

Could be your gall bladder...that feeling bloated thing with the nausea is definitely a symptom I had with mine before I had to have it removed.

As for tiny husband had what I would describe as sludge in his (he had to have his removed as well. ) The stones don't have to be huge to cause problems; and paradoxically people can walk around with stones and be just fine.
posted by konolia at 8:34 PM on July 31, 2008

Here's my experience: beginning in my teens, I started to struggle with nausea (and worse - vomiting, other digestive distress, you name it). For many, many years I was misdiagnosed with everything from IBS to GERD to celiac disease, and yeah, ulcers also. The problem was pretty much constant, but like you, worse in the evening.

Long story short, eventually the culprit turned out to be sugar, whether natural or not so - I can't digest either fructose or sucrose. Eliminating both from my diet cleared the problem right up - easier said than done, since one or the other is in just about everything you don't make yourself! And yes, that means no fruit at all. Nothing sweet, ever :(

Lactose and gluten intolerance are well known and pretty easy to diagnose. Just thought I'd throw this out there, as there are many other lesser-known food intolerances that you/your doctor might consider.
posted by chez shoes at 8:40 PM on July 31, 2008

I second chez shoes - I had a gallbladder attack four years ago that lead me to really taking a hard look at my diet. The only food I had eaten the day before the attack was mashed potatoes, but the doctor kept insisting that fat was the culprit and would continue to cause me pain, so at first I went on a low fat diet and averaged an attack about once a month. I finally got fed up and started giving myself free reign to go nuts with olive oil and avocadoes, with no ill effects. So I decided to eliminate sugar for awhile. After the first week of withdrawals I felt significantly better, and was eating foods I'd not eaten since I was a teenager - cheese, meat, fats of all kinds. Turns out, talking to my grandmother, that sugar sensitivity/allergies runs in my family, and it's not diabetes. However, I'm not affected by fructose the way chez shoes describes, so I still eat fruit and will splurge on desserts occasionally.
posted by annathea at 9:00 PM on July 31, 2008

Crohn's Disease?

You should see a gastroenterologist.
posted by mynameismandab at 11:16 PM on July 31, 2008

strange, full, almost burning-like feeling in the back of the throat. It will usually die down when I burp;

In isolation, that sounds like acid reflux to me. The fact that your positioning changes your symptoms also sounds like acid reflux.

The nausea could also be explained by a long term, low grade sinus infection; post nasal drip can and does cause nausea. Ear stuff also causes nausea; a balance disorder or something similar to Labyrinthitis could account for it.

Obviously, none of that is gastroentrological, but if you have no luck with a typical diagnosis, those are some a-typical routes you could explore.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:19 AM on August 1, 2008

I get nauseated a lot too. A lot of medications list nausea as a side effect, and NSAIDS like ibuprofen can upset your stomach. Heck, Aleve (Naproxen) made me sick to my stomach, and so do many antibiotics. Once I was on doxycycline and I would vomit if I didn't eat a BIG meal with it.

Sometimes tea will help me... some antinausea tea ingredients include chamomile, ginger, and peppermint or spearmint. Sometimes sucking on a Starlight mint (peppermint) will help my nausea too. And I haven't gotten to try them yet, but check out Queasy Drops.

I've tried Emetrol and it seems to be a crapshoot - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and one time it felt like it made the nausea worse. It's just liquid sugar though. (Glucose and fructose.)

Pepsid Complete is good for GERD, when you have heartburn.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:53 AM on August 1, 2008


The Coke isn't helping, I'm sure. Sorry.

Try not to eat 2 hours before you go to bed, see if that helps.
posted by sondrialiac at 5:02 AM on August 1, 2008

I feel nauseaous when I'm constipated. Are you getting enough fiber? Try a dose of psillium fiber with each meal and see if it goes away.
posted by gjc at 7:53 AM on August 1, 2008

I've had constant stomach issues for a long time, which got really bad a couple of years ago. Nausea and PAIN that made me just want to curl up on the couch, eat a loaf of bread, and not move. I've had pretty much all the same tests as parkerjackson: blood tests (no h.pylori so it's not an ulcer), two endoscopies, ultrasound, gallbladder squeeze thing. The first endoscopy showed some damage to my duodenum which the doctor at the time attributed to NSAID use. I haven't taken ibuprofen in over a year now, but I'm still having random bouts of pain. I was put on Nexxium which was supposed to allow my stomach to heal, but it never seemed to have much effect. I can tell that at least some component is stress related, because the attacks usually seem to happen when something big's going on in my life. I just want it to stop. So I'm left with just a diagnosis of duodenitis, still without any idea of the cause.

Anyway, yeah, see your doctor. Rule out ulcers, rule out gallbladder stuff. (I was really hoping for a positive diagnosis on the gallbladder. It would have been such a relief to just get the sucker taken out and have everything get better.) Get an endoscopy if you have to. The procedure was a lot less painful and scary than I'd anticipated, and it'll be worth it if they can spot something.
posted by web-goddess at 10:54 AM on August 1, 2008

There is a possibility that constant nausea is neurological. It's highly unlikely in someone who hasn't had recent head trauma, but I found the detail about your eyes to be somewhat intriguing. It's really not normal to have 20/20 vision, but need severe glasses to read. It's just another thing to consider if your gastro treatment dead-ends: you just might be constantly dizzy.

Also, the gall-stone thing has me worried. My wife had a problem with "small" gall stones. When they removed her gall bladder, it looked like a hacky-sack the size of a grapefruit. I would think that you'd want regular imaging to make sure that this isn't a sign that your gall stones are getting out of control.

Good luck!
posted by Citrus at 7:44 AM on August 4, 2008

« Older Amazing budgeting program with bonus of an iphone...   |   Liqour, liquor everywhere but not a drop to drink? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.