What is Nausea?
Nausea is the sensation of having to vomit or having the urge to vomit. Vomiting may or may not occur as a result of nausea. Some describe the sensation of nausea as unsettled feeling in the stomach or queasiness. Nausea is not a disease but a symptom of a variety of conditions, ranging from viral and bacterial infections, to motion sickness, to food poisoning, to abscesses of the brain. Certain medications can cause nausea.
Nausea can occur with or without vomiting. Depending on the cause, nausea may be accompanied by diarrhea, malaise and fever.
If a child has nausea, it is essential to find the underlying cause of the symptom. Physical exam and blood tests are usually the first steps. Additional tests and procedures may be needed depending on the findings from the physical exam and the blood analysis.
Because nausea is a symptom rather than a condition, treatment depends on the underlying cause.
When to Call for Help
Call your pediatrician if your child’s nausea is accompanied by vomiting that doesn’t go away after 24 hours, if the nausea persists, or if the child complains of stomach pains or headache and stiff neck. Nausea and/or vomiting with pain in the lower right corner of the abdomen may mean that your child has appendicitis, an inflammation of the appendix, which usually requires prompt surgical removal. Severe headache with stiff neck and nausea or vomiting can be symptoms of meningitis.
At Hopkins Children’s, gastrointestinal causes of nausea are treated by the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, or in tandem with other divisions, depending on the underlying cause.