Dizziness and nausea: causes and symptoms, pregnancy

Dizziness, nausea and vomiting can be caused by mild or severe disorders in various organs and systems:

  1. Digestive system
  2. Nervous system
  3. Ears
  4. Cardiovascular system.


Causes of dizziness and nausea

Nervous system

Migraines are recurrent headaches with characteristic launching pain in one half of the head.

Other symptoms of migraine include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomit
  • Vertigo
  • Hypersensitivity to light and sound.

Brain tumor

Not all brain tumors cause symptoms, especially in the first stages.

The symptoms of brain cancer are multiple and non-specific (they can be caused by many other conditions).

The symptoms may be caused by:

  1. A tumor that presses on other areas of the brain, preventing proper function.
  2. Brain swelling caused by the tumor or the inflammation surrounding it.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • difficulty walking,
  • Cramps.

Other symptoms and signs include:

  • disturbance of concentration and attention,
  • Amnesia
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • blurred vision,
  • Language barriers.

Other neurological causes of dizziness and nausea:

  • Meningitis
  • cerebral hematoma,
  • Brain tumor.

Cardiovascular system

Heart attack

A heart attack occurs when the blood transport in an area of the heart is reduced, resulting in the death of heart tissue.

In women, there are some common symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomit
  • Vertigo.

Other common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain that radiates to the arm, neck, jaw angle and stomach.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Perspiration.


Blood pressure is the force that blood exerts on the blood vessel walls.

If blood pressure drops below 90/60 mmHg, symptoms such as:

  • Vertigo
  • Numbness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Thirst
  • blurred vision,
  • Breathing acceleration,
  • skin pallor,
  • Difficulty concentrating.


Inner ear

Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the labyrinth in the inner ear, usually caused by a viral infection.

Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomit
  • Disturbances of equilibrium.

Kinetosis (motion sickness) is a disorder that occurs and can cause during a journey with a means of transport (ship, machine, etc.):

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomit
  3. Vertigo
  4. Feeling of chills.

Meniere’s syndrome and dizziness

According to an article by Timothy C. Hain, a physician at the American Hearing Research Foundation, Meniere syndrome can cause dizziness and nausea.

Meniere’s disease is a rare but serious disease.

The disease is related to a massive accumulation of fluid in the inner ear, which causes sudden dizziness that can last for several hours.

Symptoms of Meniere’s disease include:

  • Hearing
  • tinnitus (noise in the ear),
  • feeling of stuffy or full ears,
  • loss of balance,
  • Nausea and vomiting

Vestibular neuritis

A viral infection can spread to the vestibular nerve of the inner ear and cause vestibular neuritis.

This nerve relays sensory messages to the brain to maintain balance.

Inflammation of the vestibular nerve can lead to dizziness and drowsiness in the head.

Other symptoms of vestibular neuritis include:

  • nausea and vomiting,
  • Fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating,
  • Blurred vision.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPLS) is a vestibular disorder that causes lack of balance, nausea and dizziness.

BPLS is caused by otoliths in the inner ear that detach from the otolithic membrane in the utriculus and accumulate in one of the semicircular canals.

Symptoms worsen:

  • When the patient lies down,
  • When he turns his head,
  • When he turns in bed,
  • When he gets out of bed.
  • Rarely, shingles occur while the patient is walking.

Treatment of BPLS is simple. The doctor or physiotherapist positions the head in a certain position. The therapy is effective after one or two sessions.

Other causes:

  • In the first trimester of pregnancy, hyperemesis gravidarum causes dizziness and morning vomiting.
  • Panic attack
  • Antidepressants
  • respiratory diseases (obstructive pulmonary disease, attacks of asthma and pulmonary edema),
  • Neurological diseases (damage to the brain and spinal cord),
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, food poisoning and gastroenteritis),
  • olfactory problems,
  • Migraine
  • Anaemia
  • alcohol and drug abuse,
  • Depression
  • Syncope (fainting),
  • Low or high blood pressure,
  • Hyperventilation
  • arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries),
  • Menopause
  • Dehydration.

Usually, the doctor prescribes medications that reduce dizziness.

In order to achieve a lasting result, the cause must be treated, but the doctor may recommend medication only for temporary improvement, for example, betahistine (Betavert).

Drowsiness and nausea for neck pain

According to a study by physician Timothy C. Hain (American Hearing Research Foundation), there are two possible causes of dizziness, nausea, and neck pain:

1) Vascular compression. The vertebral arteries in the neck can be compressed by the vertebral bodies (which they pass) or by other structures.

Causes of vascular compression on the neck are:

  • Arthrosis
  • Surgery
  • A blow or whiplash,
  • The manipulation by a chiropractor.

2) Abnormal sensory information coming from the proprioceptors of the neck.

Proprioceptors are nerve endings that perceive:

  • Movement
  • Vibrations.

Sensory information from the neck area is used together with vestibular and visual information to determine the position of the head in space.

Signals coming from the cervical nerves may include:

  • Unreliable
  • Absent.

This mechanism has been studied by DeJong and DeJong, who injected an anesthetic into their own throat.

These injections have caused instability and mild dizziness.

Most patients with cervical dizziness felt improvement after neck treatment.


Whiplash leads not only to neck trauma, but also to brainstem trauma.

The most common symptoms of whiplash are:

  • Neck
  • Headache
  • dizziness and drowsiness (25-50 of cases),
  • nausea (less common),
  • Tinnitus (rare).

Symptoms appear a few hours after the trauma or the following day.

However, these symptoms are difficult to detect because no injuries can be seen in the instrumental examinations (Voyvodic F, Dolinis J, Ryan GA, Slavotinek JP, Whyte AM, Hoile RD, Taylor GW. MRI of car occupants with whiplash injury. Neuroradiology. 1997).

Some studies show that mild or subclinical cerebral damage caused by an accident can lead to:

  • An altered perception of pain,
  • A prolongation of the symptomatic period (Vibert D, Hausler R. Acute peripheral vestibular deficits after whiplash injuries. Ann Otolo Rhinol Laryngol. 2003).

Since diagnosis is difficult, it is first necessary to exclude other disorders:

  • of the inner ear (such as labyrinthitis),
  • of the central nervous system (for example, a stroke),
  • blood circulation (aortic stenosis),

The patient should not have any symptoms on the ear, such as:

  • Ache
  • Hearing.

The doctor may perform a simple physical exam to determine if the cervical spine is causing dizziness and nausea.

Position of the patient: sitting on a chair with castors (office chair),

Execution of the examination: while the head is being held, the patient’s body must be turned to both sides.

In this way, the cervical spine can be examined and diseases of the vestibular organ in the ear and brain can be excluded.

If this test causes dizziness and nystagmus, it can confirm the diagnosis.

Drowsiness in the head, nausea and stomach pain

Disorders of the digestive system are a common cause of nausea, vomiting and dizziness.

Gastroenteritis is a disease characterized by inflammation:

  • of the stomach,
  • of the intestine.

It usually causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Gastroenteritis can be caused by:

  • A virus (such as norovirus),
  • Taking toxic substances or too many medications,

The nausea is persistent, vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, fatigue and dizziness.

Other gastrointestinal disorders that cause nausea, vomiting and dizziness include:

  • Ileus
  • Appendicitis
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreas.

Gastric acidification

The hormonal balance during the menstrual cycle can lead to increased stomach acid production, nausea during menstruation is a possible complication.

Dizziness and nausea with tachycardia and massive sweating

Anxiety and panic attacks

Intense, recurrent, or long-lasting anxiety may indicate a psychological disorder characterized by compulsive thoughts or worries.

There are physical (psychosomatic) reactions caused by anxiety, for example:

  1. Nausea
  2. Vertigo.

People with anxiety disorders may also experience panic attacks, which are acute episodes of anxiety that can cause:

  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Tachycardia
  • difficulty breathing.


Hypoglycemia means a low blood sugar level.

This disorder can cause:

  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Uncontrolled tremors,
  • rapid heartbeat,
  • Sweats
  • Cravings for sugar.

Dizziness and nausea with diarrhea


Food poisoning manifests itself when a person ingests a food contaminated with toxins.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, this is especially true during the summer months, when food may not have been properly stored.

In this situation, the bacteria multiply and produce toxins.

The symptoms may be:

  1. Nausea
  2. Vertigo
  3. Vomit
  4. Diarrhoea
  5. abdominal cramps,
  6. Fatigue
  7. Muscle
  8. Fever.

They usually occur 72 hours after ingestion of the toxins.

Inpatient treatment may be required for:

  1. Elderly
  2. Children
  3. persons with weakened immune systems,
  4. People who suffer from diarrhea and massive vomiting.

To prevent food poisoning, avoid undercooked meat, eggs, dairy products and foods that have passed their expiration date.

Nausea and dizziness with vomiting

There are many diseases that cause these symptoms:

  • Agoraphobia
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Motion sickness
  • Pregnancy
  • Caffeine excess
  • Endometriosis
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Renal failure
  • hepatic insufficiency,
  • thyroid diseases,
  • Adrenal insufficiency.

Some serious chemical imbalances in the body can cause these symptoms, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, a disorder in which blood sugar concentration is very high (and where there is little glucose in the cells).

The body burns large amounts of fat to get the necessary fuel.

Dizziness and nausea in pregnancy

These symptoms occur mainly in the first and third trimesters.

Morning sickness

During pregnancy, some women may feel:

  1. Vertigo
  2. Vomit.

In many cases, these symptoms are the result of morning sickness and nothing to worry about.

Morning sickness can occur as early as three weeks after conception.

The result is an increase in some female hormones, including:

  • Beta HCG,
  • Progesterone.

These hormones slow down digestion, causing the stomach to empty very slowly.

Dilated blood vessels

During pregnancy, the body’s blood vessels dilate and blood pressure drops, resulting in dizziness.

Pregnant women should:

  1. Avoid standing for long periods of time,
  2. Rise slowly when lying or sitting to avoid dizziness.

If dizziness occurs, one should lie down on the left side to prevent the uterus from pressing on the inferior vena cava.

Extrauterine or ectopic pregnancy

In some cases, dizziness and vomiting in pregnancy may be signs of a serious problem.

If severe dizziness occurs along with abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, it may be an ectopic pregnancy, which is when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus (usually in the fallopian tube).

In the first stages, the symptoms are mild, but as the fetus grows, serious symptoms can be caused, up to the rupture of the fallopian tube.

An ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening.

Dizziness and nausea in children

In children, dizziness and nausea may be signs of:

  • Low blood pressure: especially if you get up too quickly from the chair
  • Low blood sugar: can occur if a child is diabetic, has exercised vigorously, or has not eaten for several hours
  • Food poisoning: may cause vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration if the child does not drink enough fluids
  • Dehydration: occurs when the child drinks too little or sweats too much

In the most severe cases, these symptoms may be caused by:

  • problems of the central nervous system, due to abnormal formations inside the skull (hematoma, abscess, tumor) or fluid retention in the brain,
  • problems in the inner ear that can lead to loss of balance,
  • Neurological diseases related to blood circulation, such as stroke,
  • Internal bleeding caused by trauma and may cause dizziness and vomiting due to blood loss,
  • ingestion of poison or inhalation of harmful chemical substances,
  • Some medications, for example, antidepressants.

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