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Nausea When Hungry- Why and How to Remove It?

Nausea is a very unpleasant state which is related to both the physique and psyche. The reasons can be quite complex. It prevents a good mood and hampers our day-to-day productivity. This can also indicate some underlying serious conditions.

So, why is there nausea when hungry?

We feel nauseous if we don’t take food for a long time. This mainly occurs for gastroesophageal acid reflux or response of the body to different brain stimuli. The brain produces these stimuli to combat low blood sugar. A healthy and frequent diet of a small amount of food can help to prevent such conditions.

We have explained the reasons and necessary measures for hunger-associated nausea clearly in this article. To know further, just scroll down!

Table of Content

Why Nausea Occurs When Hungry? [Reasons And Risk Factors]

The mechanism and factors that influence nausea in a hungry state are discussed below:


  • If there is no intake of food for a prolonged period then blood sugar level falls. It occurs especially during sleep. The brain then signals the adrenal glands to secrete more cortisol. This helps to increase the blood sugar level back to normal. 

It works by releasing glucose from the liver and muscles into the blood. The side effects of excess cortisol in the body can be nausea and related symptoms.

  • It is proved through research that the stomach contracts when it is empty. This can cause the gastric acid to slosh up into the esophagus. Moreover, the stomach is prone to secrete gastric acid often during the routine time of eating. This may cause a build-up of acid up to the junction of the stomach and esophagus.

This backward entry of acid into the esophagus will trigger the area postrema of the brainstem. As a result, nausea will occur.

  • During a long time of fasting, the hormone ghrelin is produced more. It makes you feel hungry. If you ignore your hunger then the hormonal balance will be affected. It can thus cause nausea in many individuals.

Risk Factors

Other factors that may induce nausea when hungry include,

  • An underlying metabolic disorder can make you feel nauseous often. This includes high blood pressure, high LDL (bad cholesterol), etc.
  • Strenuous exercise makes the blood flow away from the stomach to other organs. This leads to nausea.
  • Anxiety and stress are influencing factors too.
  • Certain medications on an empty stomach can make you feel nauseous too.
  • Working or running with an empty stomach can trigger nausea.

What to Do When Nausea Occurs?

The following guidelines will help you to deal with nausea according to the severity:

In Case of Mild Nausea

  • Stay calm in a cold and quiet place. Take some slow deep breaths.
  • Take some light healthy foods and do it in small intervals. Like, plain pieces of bread, light snacks, etc.
  • Drink ice-cold water or beverages slowly.
  • Take a rest or try to sleep.

In Case Of Moderate Nausea

  • Have some protein-rich foods in small intervals. Like, khichdi (mixed pulse, rice, and vegetables).
  • If your blood sugar is very low, don’t have heavy carbohydrates to combat it. Your body can produce reactive hypoglycemia.
  • You can take anti-emetic medications like TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants), gabapentin, etc. with a doctor’s prescription. These medicines are usually given to patients with chronic nausea.
  • Healthy fibrous smoothies are helpful too.

In Case of Severe Nausea

  • In acute nausea, antiemetics like antihistamines, antidopaminergics, etc. are often the first-line drugs. Your doctor will prescribe them according to your symptoms.
  • Do not eat hot and cold foods subsequently.
  • Consume foods that are at room temperature.
  • Temporally stop other oral medications and ask your doctor about taking them. These may initiate vomiting too.
  • Take rest and sleep.

Treatments And Prevention

The current treatment concepts and preventive measures are mentioned below:

Treatment Options

Different conventional and alternative remedies are there to deal with nausea.

Conventional Medications

Current medical treatments are of two types. These are suppressing nausea by anti-emetics and regulating gut motility by prokinetics.

The pathways of chronic nausea are close to chronic neuropathic pain. So, treatment modalities can also have similarities. Like the doctor may often prescribe benzodiazepines, gabapentin, cannabinoids, etc. The initial dose is usually low and then adjusted slowly. It’s because a heavy dose can trigger worse symptoms in patients with chronic nausea.

Acute nausea is easier to treat compared to chronic idiopathic nausea. Antiemetics like 5-HT3 antagonists, antihistamines, etc. are commonly used.

Alternative Remedies

If you don’t want to take medicines then you can obtain several other options like,

  • Hypnosis, acupuncture, and acupressure can help reduce nausea. You can do acupressure by placing three fingers of one hand on another. They are placed horizontally just proximal and parallel to the wrist. Then find the midpoint of the two great tendons proximal to the fingers. Finally, put pressure with your finger to that point in a way that you feel it deeply. But it shouldn’t ache. You can go to any expert. There are organizations available for such therapies now.
  • Many drinks like ginger tea, mint tea, chamomile tea, etc. can help to stabilize the stomach.
  • Some essential oils are beneficial in nausea though there is no conclusive evidence yet. These are easily taken as inhalation or diluted with carrier oils before applying to the skin.
  • Aromatherapy is found to be useful in reducing nausea. A study showed that isopropyl alcohol-based aromatherapy is efficient. Peppermint-based aromatherapy is also used though there is no solid evidence for it yet.
  • Controlled breathing, that is deep slow breaths help to regulate the feeling of nausea.
  • In certain individuals, spices like cinnamon, cumin, etc. can decrease nausea.
  • Yoga is a very helpful exercise for almost all kinds of symptoms. Yoga along with aerobic exercises can decrease nausea too.
  • After feeling nauseated, you can prevent vomiting by consuming soda pop, orange, grapefruit, popsicles, etc.
  • Keep your head elevated than your feet with pillows while resting.

Preventive Measures

Prevention is always better than cure. So take a look at the preventive measures. 

These include,

  • A healthy diet with adequate protein and fibers is necessary. A person with the tendency to face nausea when hungry should not do intermittent fasting usually.
  • Don’t take high-power antibiotics on an empty stomach. Follow the prescriptions carefully.
  • Make a habit of remaining hydrated with healthy smoothies and drinks. Drink at least 6 to 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
  • Don’t take excess over-the-counter drugs just with the onset of simple symptoms. 
  • Take citrus fruits, dates, good natural spices, vitamin B capsules.
  • Avoid hard-to-digest foods and try to take small meals throughout the day.


What triggers nausea in the morning on an empty stomach?

This occurs due to low blood sugar throughout the night. This is known as morning sickness.

What is the best cure for nausea when hungry?

The best remedy is to take moderate amounts of protein-rich healthy foods. This should be taken at small intervals throughout the day.

When to be worried about nausea immediately?

If you have chronic nausea with no known cause, you should consult a medical specialist soon. In case of acute nausea, you can take any known anti-emetics. Then wait for the symptoms to relieve. If severity doesn’t decline then it may indicate some underlying metabolic derangements too. So, consult your physician.


Nausea when hungry can be mostly explained, treated and prevented. Chronic nausea is comparatively troubling to deal with. But with proper steps and guidelines, this can be handled well.

If you have nausea then you probably know by now what to do next. So, good luck with your health and take care.

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