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Why Nausea Is Tough to Treat

by Hopkins

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As a Gastroenterologist, or doctor who specializes in the digestive system, I see plenty of patients who come in complaining of nausea. Whether it's from morning sickness, medications like chemotherapy, or inflammation of their digestive tract, one thing is for sure, all of them are miserable and most can't work during the worst of it.

I often wondered why nausea is quite possibly the most horrible sensation that a person can experience. Sure, pain can be miserable, and an itch can be annoying, but bad nausea is just plain terrible. Looking back through my studies at undergraduate training at Cornell University where I focused on the evolution of behavior, a field called neuroethology, I was able to better understand this unfortunate truth.

To better understand, imagine that you were one of the first humans on planet Earth and you were very hungry. Sure, you'd like to eat that buffalo, but that wasn't always easy. But, there were plenty of berries and leaves out there. The problem was that many of these plants were very poisonous, sometimes deadly poisonous.

The brain is a smart organ and doesn't want to get fooled twice, so it did something very smart, it organized itself so that it couldn't forget when the body ate something bad. To do this, the part of the brain that controls smell and nausea sits very close to the part that stores memories. So, if you ate that bad berry and got really sick, the smell alone of that food again instantly jolts your memory and your brain says, "No way, not this time". That's why people often develop aversions to food that last a lifetime if they had that food before they got sick.

The fact that the roots of nausea are buried so deep within our brains also makes it very difficult to treat. Never fear, help is out there. Talk with your doctor more about both prescription medicines and non-prescription options like ginger tummy drops.

I hope you found this article enjoyable and stay tuned for more on how we can actually make nausea better. Have a great day free from nausea.


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