Many people experience occasional mild nausea with bloating. Although decidedly troublesome, these symptoms often do not signal a serious underlying health problem -- especially when they occur infrequently. Nonetheless, it's normal to wonder about the possible cause of these digestive symptoms so you can potentially take corrective action. Additionally, frequent nausea and bloating sometimes indicate a significant health problem.
Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, typically causes a constellation of digestive symptoms. These might include uncomfortable fullness after a meal, a prolonged feeling of fullness after eating, pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen as well as possible bloating and mild nausea. Indigestion affects most people every now and then. Potential triggers include:
- Eating too quickly or too much
- A high-fat or spicy meal
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Side effect of medication, such as antibiotics
- High levels of stress
Certain foods don't agree with some people. Trouble digesting lactose, or milk sugar, is a common example. This condition results from reduced levels of the intestinal enzyme needed to break down the sugar. Typical symptoms include bloating, stomach rumbling and possible nausea followed by diarrhea. Eating large amounts of fructose from fruit, fruit juices or sugary foods or beverages can cause similar symptoms. Sugar-free foods, chewing gum, breath mints and candies that contain sweeteners such as sorbitol or xylitol might also cause these symptoms if consumed in large amounts.
Delayed Stomach Emptying
With delayed stomach emptying, or gastroparesis, food stays in the stomach longer than normal before passing into the small intestine. Bloating and mild nausea occur commonly with this condition as well as decreased appetite and feeling full after eating a small amount of food. Gastroparesis can occur with a variety of medical conditions. Diabetic nerve damage is a leading cause. Other possible underlying medical causes include hypothyroidism, gastroesophageal reflux disease, Crohn disease and irritable bowel syndrome, among others. Additionally, some medications can slow stomach emptying. Common examples include opioid pain relievers, lithium, progesterone, nicotine and blood pressure medicines called calcium channel blockers.
Warnings and Precautions
An occasional episode of mild nausea and bloating usually does not signal a serious medical problem and often goes away on its own or with minor dietary adjustments. See your doctor if your symptoms occur frequently or persist for more than 2 weeks. Contact your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you experience any warning signs or symptoms, including:
- Severe or rapidly worsening abdominal pain
- Vomiting blood or material that resembles coffee grounds
- Passing bloody stool
- High fever, chills or clammy skin
- Lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting
Is This an Emergency?
- American Gastroenterological Association: Dyspepsia
- European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences: Fructose, Trehalose and Sorbitol Malabsorption
- Medscape Journal of Medicine: Gastroparesis – Current Concepts and Considerations
- American Family Physician: Evaluation of Nausea and Vomiting
- American College of Gastroenterology: Gastroparesis
- Postgraduate Medical Journal: Systemic Lactose Intolerance: a New Perspective on an Old Problem
- Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology: Evaluation and Management of Dyspepsia