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What are the Most Common Causes of Sudden Nausea?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Sometimes nausea develops quickly and without any warning or gradual buildup. When this occurs, it may be referred to as sudden nausea. There are many things capable of causing sudden nausea. Among the most common are such things as food poisoning or stomach viruses. Overindulgence in alcohol may cause this problem as well. Additionally, some pregnant woman may develop morning sickness, which is another common cause of sudden nausea.

One of the most common causes of sudden nausea is food poisoning. When a person eats food that has been contaminated, nausea may begin suddenly. For example, a person may eat food or consume a drink that has been contaminated with bacteria capable of causing stomach upset. In such a case, the affected person may suddenly feel nauseated. Unfortunately, the nausea may be accompanied by the sudden onset of other unpleasant symptoms as well, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.

Another common cause of sudden nausea is a stomach virus. For example, a person may become nauseated suddenly because he has caught a virus that is capable of causing gastrointestinal upset. In such a case, a person may have nausea that is soon followed by symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. In some cases, a person who has contracted a stomach virus may also develop a fever or headache as well. Often, however, the first sign that a person has a stomach virus is nausea.

Overindulgence in alcoholic beverages is also among the most common causes of sudden nausea. Often, a person who drinks too much alcohol feels fine at first. He may continue to consume alcohol without having any type of stomach upset. After a time, however, he may experience sudden nausea and begin to vomit as well.

Pregnancy is another common cause of sudden nausea. Often, pregnant women notice that nausea develops suddenly in response to certain smells. For example, a pregnant woman may notice a smell that is normally pleasant for her, such as a favorite food or perfume, and become nauseated; even cleaning agents and soaps may produce this effect. Sometimes the quick onset of nausea common to pregnancy develops when a woman is eating a particular type of food or when she initially gets out of bed in the morning. A pregnant woman may experience nausea at any time, however, and it is not always easy to determine what has caused her to feel nauseated so suddenly.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a TheHealthBoard writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By anon1000179 — On Jun 21, 2018

Sudden unexplained nausea can be caused by problems with the aterial blood supply to the stomach; a ligament attached to the diaphragm can pinch the artery and cause a reduction in blood flow; a problem with the artery which causes partial obstruction also. Physicians should be able to determine this if they consider it.

By anon991149 — On May 31, 2015

I do have nausea from time to time. I eat well and think I am a healthy 25 year old guy. Some times when I get to bed at night, I get that nausea feeling for no obvious reason. And the more I think about it, the more I feel sick. Then it goes away and I go to sleep and wake up fine, but damn, it's frustrating. It occurred last night for the first time in few months. I eat a little at night (cereals or cookies with a glass of milk), but way before bed! So I do not know why I get the nausea feeling from time to time. Maybe anxiety? Maybe, whatever.

By anon966563 — On Aug 20, 2014

I have been nauseated for five months. I've been back and forth to many doctors and they don't know what's going on. I'm hanging on to what life I have and it's hard. I'm in bed daily. I wish someone could please help me.

By anon326872 — On Mar 24, 2013

I had just smoked a joined when it occurred. It was very strange, I felt fine up until the moment my stomach cramped like crazy, I threw up very briefly and just a very small amount and then I felt fine again.

I didn't drink any alcohol, I couldn't be pregnant (male), nobody else got sick from the food we were eating and I think it would be too recent (the middle of dinner) and I don't think I'm sick. I am puzzled.

By anon323170 — On Mar 03, 2013

Not to be the stoner on the forum, but smoking weed works miracles for chronic or sudden nausea. You'll just throw up with oral medicine most of the time, and you can't throw up if you're smoking medicine. Just a suggestion.

By anon294130 — On Sep 29, 2012

Getting sick to your stomach (vomiting) a lot could be caused by gallbladder problems! I would get sick for no apparent reason at -- least one day of the week for months! I was sick all the time. It felt like a stomach virus, but 10 times worse. It is a miserable feeling. I found out it was because my gallbladder was only functioning at 9 percent. Having it removed with the best thing ever. I did not ever feel that way again after it was removed.

Go to the doctor if you are constantly getting "sick". I was also bloated a lot. And my food would sit in my stomach for hours and hours and wouldn't digest. I could feel that I still had a belly full of food.

By GreenWeaver — On Jun 01, 2011

@Sneakers41 - I hate when that happens. Vomiting has to be one of the worst symptoms you can have because the dizziness and nausea type feeling that you feel right before you are going to throw up is awful. The good thing is that after you throw up you usually feel much better.

With food poisoning, you only really vomit for the first day and once that bad food gets out of your system, you should feel better. With a stomach virus, it could last longer which is really hard because you don’t know how long you are going to be vomiting.

I know that years ago my daughter got a stomach virus and when I took her to the doctor, the doctor prescribed these suppositories that stopped the vomiting immediately. It was a life saver. I now use hand sanitizers everywhere I go and make sure that everyone washes their hands. They say that a stomach virus is transmitted from an unsanitary situation like touching something that someone touched that had not washed their hands.

By sneakers41 — On May 29, 2011

@Oscar23 -I just wanted to say that a few weeks ago I had the worst case of food poisoning. I was fine until a few hours after I ate some leftovers from a restaurant that I had gone to the night before.

I started to feel sudden dizziness followed by nausea. I then started to get really bad pain that originated in my lower back and wrapped around to the front of my stomach. It was awful. I got so sick after I started to feel that pain that I knew what had made me sick.

I was afraid of eating anything for a few days. I mainly ate applesauce and drank soda but waited for the carbonation to fizzle out. Flat soda is supposed to help heal an upset stomach. I also ate a lot of crackers which got boring after a while.

By oscar23 — On May 29, 2011

@Agni3 – Hey! Are you really stressed out just lately? That could be the culprit.

If not, and nothing else seems evident, try another pregnancy test. Nausea is what prompted me to take a second one after a negative reading with my second child. I was over two months along because the first test I took was false.

And, if it’s still negative and the symptoms of nausea don't go away, go to the doctor!

Good luck!

By Agni3 — On May 29, 2011

I have been getting really sick to my stomach lately, and for no apparent reason.

I’ve taken a pregnancy test – negative. I’ve been watching what I eat – not helping. I don’t think viruses can last weeks at a time.

So what could be the cause of this horrendous nausea?

I hate to go to the doctor just to say, “Hey, guys. I’m going to give you hundreds of dollars so that you can tell me you have no idea why I’m perpetually sick on my stomach either.”

I’d love to know how to get rid of this terrible, chronic nausea.

By JessiC — On May 29, 2011

Food poisoning is no laughing matter. Dude, I used to think that people just needed to man up and take their sickness with a little dignity…that is until I had it.

The sudden dizziness and nausea completely overtook me before I even really knew I was sick!

Good grief, I have never been so sick in my whole life! Some bad ranch dressing was the culprit, and I thought I would die before the nausea and cramping subsided.

It took a good three or four days for me to get over it completely – I even had to go to the doctor. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot to be done except to wait it out.

By nanny3 — On May 29, 2011

Boy of boy, have I had my fair share of sudden heartburn and nausea. I have two children and had both during each of their pregnancies.

With my daughter, who is now four, I started getting ‘morning sickness’ all day long at about two and half or three months. I had a serious aversion to meat especially and anything with a strong odor of any kind. It seemed like everything smelled overwhelming to me.

The morning sickness was so bad that it actually lasted until the day after I delivered her, and then I had to be given drugs to stop it.

I don’t know what the difference was between the first and second pregnancy, but with my son I was given a prescription medicine to help at about three months. It was wonderful!

I feel for any woman battling the constant and severe morning sickness and heartburn that I had – it is truly miserable to have sudden nausea over and over again every day for months at a time.

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a TheHealthBoard writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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