Unexplained Nausea

What Causes Unexplained Nausea?

Unexplained nausea can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose unexplained nausea, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "unexplained nausea" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Giardia
  • Diabetes II
  • Delayed Gastric Emptying
  • Food Poisoning
  • Atrophic Gastritis
  • West Nile Virus
  • Increased Intestinal Permeability
  • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
meal-related pain for over a month
history of sinusitis
history of asthma
multiple swollen axillary nodes
mild abdominal discomfort
being very skinny
long menstrual cycles
prednisone use
high diastolic blood pressure
recent onset nausea
blood transfusions
taking naps
... and more than 90 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of unexplained nausea:
Cause Probability Status
Diabetes II 90% Confirm
Atrophic Gastritis 28% Unlikely
West Nile Virus 14% Unlikely
Food Poisoning 0% Ruled out
Increased Intestinal Permeability 0% Ruled out
Giardia 0% Ruled out
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma 0% Ruled out
Delayed Gastric Emptying 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Gastrointestinal Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about unexplained nausea:
Approximately how often do you suffer from unexplained nausea? Do not include nausea that has an obvious cause, for example pregnancy, hunger or motion sickness.
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ Never / very rarely
→ Occasionally - a few times per year
→ Regularly - a few times per month
→ Often - several times per week
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate no unexplained nausea, occasional unexplained nausea, regular unexplained nausea or frequent unexplained nausea, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Congestive Heart Failure

Accumulation of fluid (due to congestive heart failure) in the liver and intestines may cause nausea, abdominal pain, and decreased appetite.

Enlarged Spleen

Enlarged Spleen also suggests the following possibilities:

Hypersplenism

Hypersplenism is sometimes referred to as enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), but in fact an enlarged spleen is one of the symptoms of hypersplenism.  What differentiates hypersplenism is its premature destruction of blood cells.

Infectious Mononucleosis - Mono

About 50-75% of people with mononucleosis have some spleen enlargement, usually seen two to three weeks after they first become sick.  Whether or not the spleen is enlarged, people who have mono should not lift heavy objects or exercise vigorously – especially participating in contact sports – for two months after they get sick, because these activities increase the risk of rupturing the spleen, which can be life-threatening.  If you have mono and get a severe sharp, sudden pain on the left side of your upper abdomen, go to an emergency room immediately.

Leukemia

ALL, CML, or hairy cell leukemia can cause enlargement of the spleen.

Fluoride Toxicity

Nausea is an early sign of fluoride toxicity.

Gastroenteritis

Acute gastroenteritis is a common cause of acute care-seeking and is second only to the common cold as a cause of lost work time.  Bacterial, viral, and parasitic pathogens cause this illness which is characterized by diarrhea and/or vomiting.  Vomiting is especially common with infections caused by rotaviruses, enteric adenovirus, Norwalk agent, and calicivirus.

Hyperparathyroidism

In more severe cases there may be loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, confusion or impaired thinking and memory, and increased thirst and urination.

Zinc Toxicity

Symptoms of zinc toxicity include nausea, vomiting and fever.

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