Sunday, December 21, 2008
NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) -- Are you suffering from chronic, unexplainable nausea? Ask your doctor to check for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. While heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD, a condition in which stinging stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, other symptoms can include angina-like chest pain, coughing, wheezing, hoarseness, shortness of breath -- and now chronic nausea, according to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
"In patients with unexplained nausea, gastroesophageal reflux disease should, therefore, be considered if results on standard tests are normal," reported authors Drs. Ronald Brzana and Kenneth Koch, of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
The good news is that GERD-related nausea is treatable, with most patients showing improvement after taking medication such as ranitidine or omeprazole, drugs that block acid secretion, or cisapride, a drug that speeds up the passage of food through the stomach.
Brzana and Koch looked at 10 patients who had chronic nausea for periods ranging between three months and six years; six of the patients also vomited two to eight times per week. The cause of the problem was unknown and the patients had not responded to treatment with a variety of drugs. After a series of tests, the researchers found that all 10 patients had gastroesophageal reflux disease.
"After we extensively evaluated a group of patients with chronic intractable nausea, gastroesophageal reflux disease was the only abnormality we could find," the authors wrote.
While the study is limited because it only involved a handful of patients, doctors should still consider GERD after ruling out ulcers, stomach cancer, an obstruction, or pancreas or gallbladder problems as a cause of nausea, they concluded.
SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine (1997;126:704-706)