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Nauseated? Try this.

Nausea, it's that unpleasant feeling of being about to throw up. We are all familiar with it. It can occur alone be associated with the forceful expulsion of everything you just put into your stomach.


It can be due to something you ate or the motion of the small boat you are on.

Nausea can occur without vomiting and, and even less commonly, vomiting occurs without nausea.


Nausea is often more bothersome and disabling than vomiting. There are several common causes of nausea including motion sickness, gastroenteritis (stomach bug), recent surgery, disease affecting the inner ear, chemotherapy, and pregnancy among others.


Why do we get nauseated?


Normal function of the upper gastrointestinal tract (the stomach) involves an interaction between the gut and the central nervous system. There are three main mechanisms that cause nausea:


1 - Central nervous system: Nausea can be triggered by the higher cortical centers of the brain communicating with the central pattern generator (aka the vomiting center) in the brain.


2 - Peripheral mechanisms: Direct gastric stimulation from gastric trauma, blood, or toxins activate the brain stem and induce the feeling of nausea.


3- Drugs: The mechanisms by which drugs, including opioids cause nausea and vomiting are complex and incompletely understood.


What this boils down to is that essentially any disturbance in the normal rhythm of the stomach can cause nausea. An example of this is motion sickness.


This is caused by the increased motion of the stomach (aka tachygastria) which causes nausea and eventually leads to vomiting. This can be very severe in some people even when treated with common over the counter medications.


Admittedly, nausea is a very common complaint seen by doctors. Nearly five million people are seen in emergency departments in the United States annually with this complaint.


There are several drugs that are prescribed to treat nausea. How well do they work? Well for one, we know that all the drugs we use for nausea are somewhat effective and none has been proven to be better than others.


Does the treatment work? Recent studies suggest that they are not really all that effective when compared to placebo.

From this data we can extrapolate that prescription medicine is not always the answer, and in the case of treating nausea there may be a simple and cheap alternative.


Isoproply Alcohol


This is the type of alcohol that you don’t drink! It is commonly used as a disinfectant, hand sanitizer, antifreeze, and solvent, and typically comprises 70 percent of "rubbing alcohol."


Isoproply alcohol wipes are commonly used in medical settings to cleanse the skin prior to minor procedures such as drawing blood.


So what does this have to do with treating nausea?


Aromatherapy inhalation of isopropanolol (found in the wipes) is an effective treatment for nausea. No one really knows how it works, but it does!


It works even when there is an underlying medical condition causing nausea such as pregnancy or the “stomach bug”.


Why would you try smelling an alcohol wipe when you are nauseated? The advantages are that it is quick, cheap, easily available and could save you a costly trip to the ER. And really there are no downsides to this treatment. So, if you are prone to motion sickness take a few wipes with you on your next flight or deep sea fishing expedition.


Safe travels.


Please remember that medical information provided by us must be considered an educational service only. This blog should not be relied upon as medical judgement and does not replace your physician’s independent judgement. This is NOT medical advice. Please seek the advice of your physician.

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