Most of us experience an upset stomach every now and then, and usually it is not a cause for concern. Although we tend to refer to it as indigestion or by other common everyday terms like a queasy stomach, the underlying problem may not always be due to a digestive problem. Sometimes a queasy stomach is more than just indigestion and can be a sign of a serious conditions.
What does queasy stomach mean?
A queasy stomach is a common term used to describe a feeling of indigestion. This may include a range of digestive symptoms like nausea, abdominal ache, cramps, pain and bloating (sensation of fullness). Although not a strict medical term, queasy stomach may also be used to describe lower digestive symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, excessive flatulence and bowel urging even without passing stool.
Therefore the term queasy stomach may vary in meaning from one person to another as it is highly subjective. However, it is usually an indication of a digestive disturbance although at times the term ‘queasy stomach’ may also be used to describe non-digestive abdominal symptoms. For example, abdominal discomfort and pain may be called a queasy stomach despite it not arising from any of the digestive organs.
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Causes of Queasy Stomach
Often the occasionl quesy stomach is due to overeating, spicy or greasy meals and alcohol consumption. However, there a number of different medical conditions that may give rise to symptoms that are described as queasy stomach. These conditions can be considered from the area of the digestive tract that is affected. The most common causes of a queasy stomach are discussed below.
The symptoms are more likely to be felt in the chest area.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux where the stomach acid enters the foodpipe (esophagus). Common symptoms include a burning chest pain (heartburn) and nausea.
There are several other esophageal conditions that can cause the symptoms of a queasy stomach. However, gastroesophageal reflux disease is by far the most common.
WARNING: Serious cardiac conditions like a heart attack may at times present similar to acid reflux and indigestion. Always seek medical attention if the symptoms are worsening and accompanied by dizziness, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating and loss of consciousness.
Symptoms felt under the left ribcage, left upper quadrant (LUQ) and upper middle quadrant (epigastrium) of the abdomen.
- Gastritis is where the stomach is inflamed usually due to H.pylori infection or with excessive use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Coommon symptoms include a gnawing or burning pain, nausea and changes in appetite.
- Stomach ulcers are open stores in the stomach wall often due to the same causes as gastritis. The symptoms are largely the same as gastritis but the symptoms are often more severe.
- Hiatal hernia where a portion of the stomach slips into the chest cavity through the wider than normal opening in the diaphragm. Common symptoms include nausea, upper abdominal or chest pain, heartburn and bloating.
- Non-ulcer dyspepsia is indigestion that is not caused by ulcers or other digestive disorders. It is often associated with overeating, alcohol consumption, greasy or spicy meals and with using certain medicines. The common symptoms include nausea, upper abdominal discomfort and bloating.
- Gastroenteritis is usually an acute viral infection marked by vomiting and diarrhea. It is commonly known as the stomach fly and passes within a few days.
Symptoms of conditions affecting both the small and large intestines may be experienced at a number of different locations as these organs collectively occupy most of the abdominal cavity.
- Duodenal ulcers are opens sores in the wall of the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). It is more common than stomach ulcers. Symptoms include upper abdominal pain, nausea and changes in appetite.
- Duodenitis is inflammation of the duodenal wall and may precede duodenal ulcers. It is closely associated with gastritis. The symptoms are largely the same as duodenal ulcers but less intense.
- Enterocolitis is inflammation of the small intestine (enteritis) and large intestine (colitis) that is often caused by infections similar to the causes of gastroenteritis.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder where the movement through the bowels is faster or slower than normal. Common symptoms include abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhea or constipation and abdominal bloating.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic conditions affecting mainly the bowels where there is widespread inflammation. It is believed to be due to autoimmune factors.
Although not part of the digestive tract, conditions affecting the gallbladder and pancreas can also cause symptoms described as a queasy stomach. The main such conditions include:
- Gallstones are hard masses that form from bile in the gallbladder. It can then obstruct a duct. Commn symptoms include upper middle abdominal pain that often radiates to the right shoulder, nausea, fever and sometimes jaundice.
- Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, the gland located in the upper middle abdomen. Acute pancreatitis is often associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Symptoms include severe upper abdominal pain radiating to the back, nausea, vomiting and fever.
Queasiness After Eating
Many of the conditions discussed above, especially the upper digestive conditions, may aggravate almost immediately after eating. Some foods and beverages are major triggers but at times any food is a problem. Therefofre queasiness after eating is more likely to occur with:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (acid reflux)
- Peptic ulcers (stomach and/or duodenal ulcers)
- Gallstones (especially with consuming fatty meals)
Sometimes lower digestive conditions may also exacerbate after a meal. However, this often occurs anywhere between 30 minutes to an an hour or two after eating.
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Queasiness At Night
Some of the conditions mentioned above may worsen at night for several reasons, including lying flat when sleeping and the specific time of the day. This aggravation occurs independent of food. The three most notable conditions that worsen at night include:
- Gastroesopheageal reflux disease (acid reflux)
- Peptic ulcers
Lying flat allows stomach acid to flow into the esophagus with ease as the effect of gravity is negated. This is one of the reasons why acid reflux worsens when lying flat. Stomach acid production naturally increases around 3 A.M. as part of the body’s biological clock. Acid reflux, gastritis and peptic ulcers tend to worsen at this time and causes many people with these conditions to awaken or have a restless sleep.