A nauseous woman sits between a glass of ginger-ale and a glass of water.

Managing Nausea with Ulcerative Colitis

There it is again, that feeling. My stomach lurches. I run to the bathroom, ready to vomit, but it doesn’t happen. Still, I feel terrible, and I almost want to. Maybe then this awful nausea sensation will go away. But since it doesn’t, I have to find another way to deal with it.

Most persistent UC symptom

One of my most persistent symptoms with ulcerative colitis (UC) is nausea. It wasn’t like this before. Back in the days when I had less inflammation, I think. But now, I find nausea is one of the first indicators that my gut is bothering me. Often, it means a flare is coming too.

Featured Forum

View all responses caret icon

Nausea can be tough to deal with. Even though it makes me feel terrible, it also doesn’t feel like enough of a reason to lay down and miss work or socializing. On the other hand, if I don’t take care of my nausea, it just gets worse and often I get a headache too. This is a UC symptom that requires my attention, even if it seems minor.

Preventing my nausea

Hydration

Most of the time, I try to combat nausea before it even starts. Staying hydrated is key for this. I make sure to keep an eye on my water intake. I also use electrolyte replenishing drinks, like LiquidIV periodically, although I try not to go overboard because of the sugar that’s often in these drinks. (Keep in mind, some of these electrolyte replenishing drinks have magnesium in them, which can cause diarrhea. I try to keep away from these.)

One fun way to keep an eye on my water intake is to use some of the tracker apps that are available for smartphones now. My app features a cute plant that needs to be watered periodically. To water it, I have to drink a glass of water myself.

Grazing

Another key to combating nausea before it starts is eating small, but frequent meals. Too much food can upset my stomach, but so can too little. I focus on “grazing” throughout the day, which means I basically snack all day. I find crackers with a little bit of sunflower seed butter are great, as is toast with seedless jam, turkey pepperoni, cubed cheese, rice noodles with some soy sauce, and small servings of soup.

Because each person is different, not all snacks will work for everyone, but grazing can be done with any food that does sit well.

Sleep

The last key, for me, in combating nausea is sleep. If I don’t sleep enough, I automatically feel unwell. In order to make sure I rest well, I keep my bedroom cool, pop a melatonin if need be, and make sure to allow myself a good eight to nine hours of time to rest.

When nausea happens anyway

Of course, these mitigation measures don’t always work. Sometimes I feel nauseous no matter what I do. In these cases, I modify what I was already doing to fit the situation.

Using the bathroom

First off, I always try to use the bathroom if I haven’t been going already. For some reason, I do get constipated with my UC here and there, so this can be part of the problem. I drink a lot of water, take a walk, and sometimes even eat something that might trigger a bowel movement, like prunes.

Nutrition

If that doesn’t work, I usually try to eat something light. Once again, crackers are great. I also like to try smoothies, toast, pasta with olive oil, or soup. These foods are light enough for me, and they do sometimes settle my stomach. I also do try to stay hydrated, but I’ll often move to a bubbly soda like ginger ale. While carbonation isn’t usually great for me—and can trigger my acid reflux—I do find it sometimes settles my nausea. I also have some ginger chews and hard candies that I can try too.

Rest my body

Lastly, I try to lay down. Sometimes nausea is my body’s way of telling me that I’ve been working too hard. In fact, it seems to be the precursor to severe fatigue. If I’m at home, I get into bed, and if I’m out, I try to at least sit down and just chill out. This is a great time to practice deep breathing in my belly as well.

Medication

Some people also do use medication for their nausea. Most commonly, I’ve heard that patients get a Zofran prescription from their doctor, though there may be other options. I don’t use this, personally, because my nausea typically only lasts a few hours. For those with more severe nausea, medication may be a good option.

Log your symptoms

It’s always a good idea to log nausea with a doctor, no matter how minor or severe it seems. Nausea can be an indicator of how well a treatment plan is working, so if it keeps happening, changes may need to be made.

It can be helpful to log if nausea is happening at certain times of day, with certain foods, or concurrent with other symptoms too, to help assess what else is going on.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

Treatment results and side effects can vary from person to person. This treatment information is not meant to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor about what to expect before starting and while taking any treatment.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

How long has it been since you were diagnosed with UC?