Differential Diagnosis Of The Cause Of Nausea & Vomiting

Nausea Vs Vomiting

Nausea is referred to the unpleasant sensation which precedes vomiting, where one feels like throwing up and nausea mostly results in vomiting. Vomiting is the actual act of throwing up or the forceful expulsion of gastric content through the mouth. However, one can also have nausea without resulting in vomiting. Nausea and vomiting affect the quality of life. Excessive vomiting can lead to dehydration in the patient.

Differential Diagnosis Of The Cause Of Nausea & Vomiting

How to Differentiate the Causes of Nausea and Vomiting?

Nausea and vomiting are a common sign of numerous conditions. Nausea and vomiting may occur together or separately. The differential diagnosis of a few of the conditions which cause nausea and vomiting as a symptom are discussed below:

Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a drug treatment which uses powerful chemicals to kill the fast-growing cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy is most often used to treat cancer. Nausea and vomiting are the side effects of chemotherapy, which the patient observes along with fatigue, hair loss, pain, mouth sores, fever, easy bruising, diarrhea and loss of appetite.

Intestinal Obstruction. Any blockage that prevents food or liquid to pass through the small intestine or the large intestine is known as intestinal obstruction. The patient is under a lot of discomfort with nausea and vomiting as a symptom of intestinal obstruction.

Migraine. Migraine headaches are recurring headaches with the prominent symptoms of nausea and vomiting. The throbbing pain and pulsating pain affects mostly one side of the head, accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Viral Gastroenteritis. Also commonly known as stomach flu, viral gastroenteritis develops by ingesting contaminated food and water or coming in contact with an infected person. Viral Gastroenteritis also causes nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps and sometimes fever.

Motion Sickness. Travelling through any mode of transportation can cause motion sickness, also known as travelling sickness. Motion sickness can come over suddenly with a feeling of uneasiness, nausea, dizziness and vomiting.

Rotavirus. Rotavirus is a contagious virus and is a leading cause of acute gastroenteritis. Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea in children worldwide. Along with watery stool, rotavirus also causes nausea, vomiting, and fever as its accompanying symptoms.

Gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a condition in which the muscles of the walls of the stomach do not function properly, which interferes with the digestion. The signs and symptoms of gastroparesis include nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, change in blood sugar level, bloating, weight loss, malnutrition and loss of appetite.

Cholecystitis. Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gall bladder, which if left untreated can lead to serious complications. Cholecystitis also causes nausea and vomiting along with other symptoms, such as epigastric pain, fever, spreading of pain to the right shoulder and back.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis is one of the complications of diabetes. It occurs when the body produces a high level of blood acids known as ketones. A person suffering from nausea and vomiting can also be suspected for diabetic ketoacidosis if he/she has high blood sugar levels.

Heart Attack. A person suffering from a heart attack often experiences nausea, dizziness and vomiting. There is cold sweat, shortness of breath along with pressure, tightness and aching sensation which spreads to the neck, jaw and back.

Peptic Ulcer. Peptic ulcers are the sores, which develop in the stomach lining and the upper portion of the small intestine. The peptic ulcer also causes nausea and vomiting along with even blood in vomiting.

Milk Allergy. An abnormal response of the body’s immune system to milk and milk products is termed as milk allergy. Milk allergy is the most common food allergy seen in children. A person allergic to milk develops symptoms soon after drinking milk or ingesting milk products. Along with nausea and vomiting, hives, wheezing, swelling of lips, tongue and throat and shortness of breath are the common symptoms of milk allergy.

All the above are very common diagnostic causes of nausea and vomiting. Other conditions which can cause nausea and vomiting are. bulimia nervosa, heart failure, hepatitis, hiatal hernia, hydrocephalus, hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism, hypoparathyroidism, gallstones, fever, food poisoning, ear infection, enlarged spleen, excessive alcohol and acute liver failure.

When to Seek a Doctor’s Help when Experiencing Nausea & Vomiting

Do not delay medical help if along with nausea and vomiting the following symptoms occur. chest pain, blurred vision, rectal bleeding, confusion, severe abdominal cramp or pain, fecal odor in the vomit, high fever and neck stiffness.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 2, 2020

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