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What Causes Nausea in the Morning?

By Rhonda Rivera
Updated Feb 23, 2024
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Morning sickness, hangover, acid reflux, and anxiety are some potential causes of nausea in the morning. Morning sickness affects more than 50% of pregnant women, but a similar form of nausea is often felt by women starting contraceptive pills. Hangovers are caused by heavy drinking of alcohol, and among the many common symptoms of this condition is nausea. Nausea in the morning could also be caused by acid reflux. Anxiety caused by stress, especially if one is dreading an event that might happen later in the day, can also be the root of the problem.

Nausea gravidarum, also known as morning sickness, is believed to occur to keep pregnant women from eating foods that might harm the fetus. This revulsion to certain foods can also protect the mother, since her immune system may not be up to par because of the pregnancy. Morning sickness typically starts early in the morning and decreases in severity throughout the day — unless the mother eats or smells a food that can bring on another bout of sickness. In addition, hormonal contraceptive pills can cause nausea similar to morning sickness due to increased estrogen levels. When this happens, the woman might feel nauseous when smelling foods she once enjoyed and commonly consumed.

A hangover is essentially physiological effects like nausea, headache, and sensitivity to light brought on by heavy consumption of alcohol. These side effects of a hangover are very common, along with thirst and sensitivity to noise. While most common after a night of heavy drinking, it is possible for hangover nausea happen at any time of the day.

Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux is a disease caused by stomach acid reaching the esophagus. Normally, the top of the stomach is closed, but various things can damage or change this barrier. Heartburn and vomiting are the most common symptoms of acid reflux, but some people with this disease also experience nausea. Whether a person experiences nausea in the morning depends on when he or she last ate. Chest pain and excessive salivation are other uncommon symptoms of acid reflux.

Another potential cause of nausea in the morning is anxiety. Anxiety is considered a normal reaction to stress, but sometimes anxiety can be excessive or have no obvious trigger. Some symptoms of anxiety are nausea, chest pain, and heart palpitations. In some cases, anxiety attacks have been mistaken for heart attacks due to the severity of their symptoms.

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Discussion Comments
By literally45 — On Oct 02, 2013

@anamur-- Morning nausea is not a good way to predict pregnancy at all. There are so many possible causes of nausea other than pregnancy and there are plenty of women who don't experience nausea during their pregnancy.

Many different gastrointestinal problems can cause nausea in the morning. If you also have stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea, these all point to a problem in the stomach and/or colon.

Medications can also cause nausea in the morning, especially if you take them at night or first thing in the morning. Check side effects if you're on any medications.

By serenesurface — On Oct 02, 2013

I have morning nausea but I'm not pregnant. This has been going on for a few weeks now. I'm actually trying to conceive so I'm disappointed. I'm worried too because I don't know what's causing the nausea.

By turquoise — On Oct 01, 2013

I used to have GERD because of a stomach bug and the worst symptom I had was severe nausea in the morning. My doctor said that since I'm not eating while I sleep, stomach acidity reaches its peak at morning and causes nausea.

At first, I didn't know how to deal with it. Acidity reducing medications helped but I found additional relief by having a large glass of milk before going to bed. Milk stays in the stomach for a long time and it helped reduced my morning acidity. I would also munch on salt crackers as soon as I woke up. That helped a lot as well.

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