Every now and then I’ll wake up overwhelmingly nauseated, sweating and dizzy, despite having felt perfectly well (and yes, sober) at bed time.
A piece of toast and water will usually ease my stomach and allow me to get back to my day, but some mornings my vomit reflex is off the charts and that queasy feeling will hang around for hours. One time, I even threw up during my commute to work. Fun times.
Typically we associate the idea of “morning sickness” with pregnancy — though any mother will tell you it’s not strictly limited to the a.m. hours — but I’ve never been pregnant, so the catalyst hasn’t been quite so obvious.
According to Dr Piraveen Pirakalathanan, Principal Medical Officer at new Australian health information website Health&, these symptoms are quite common and can affect both men and women.
"Sickness in the morning, which can be in the form of feeling nauseous, vomiting or feeling light-headed, can affect people infrequently or it can be sometimes present every morning," he explains, adding there's an important distinction between this and pregnancy-induced nausea.
There are a number of possible causes for these early-morning symptoms, and the good news is they're generally not too serious. Here are five of the most common causes and how you can manage them:
1. Indigestion/acid reflux
"This is where stomach acid or partially-digested food can travel back up the oesophagus, which is also known as the food pipe," Dr Pirakalathanan says.
If you think you might experience indigestion, book an appointment with your doctor — they can look into acid-reducing medications to relieve your symptoms.
"Sometimes people take medications in the morning, especially on an empty stomach, and this can cause the stomach to become irritated and can present as nausea," Dr Pirakalathanan says.
You might be able to offset this by taking the medication at another time of the day or with food — your doctor or pharmacist will be able to advise you as to whether this is possible, so consult with them first. (Post continues after gallery.)
3. Low blood sugar
This is a less common cause, but Dr Pirakalathanan says a drop in blood sugar can occur after fasting overnight, as the body is starved of energy. As a result, you might feel light-headed or queasy when you wake up.
"The solution to this would be to have a snack as soon as you wake up, or even sometimes having meals closer to your bed time, or having a snack if you wake up in the middle of the night," he says. Yes, a midnight snack could help you out.
4. Your metabolism
"As people get older their metabolism can slow, and the metabolism is particularly slow in the morning. So certain foods such as dairy, fatty foods and high protein, which require the body to metabolism them more aggressively, can cause an upset stomach as well," Dr Pirakalathanan explains.
5. Anxiety or depression
Anxiety and depression come under the umbrella of mental health, but they can affect your body and physical health in a number of ways. Dr Pirakalathanan says they're a less frequent cause of morning-specific queasy symptoms, but nevertheless it's worth exploring the possibility with your doctor.
Sleep is another factor that could potentially contribute to your unpleasant symptoms. Dr Pirakalathanan says when the parameters of quality sleep aren't met — this includes the duration and depth of your sleep — it can manifest over the following days as dizziness, lethargy and possibly nausea.
While there are various medical and non-medical strategies available that can help to ease the symptoms of sickness in the morning, Dr Pirakalathanan recommends talking to your doctor first so they can identify the exact cause, and therefore the most appropriate treatment.
In the rare chance your sickness is symptomatic of a more serious medical issue, a GP consultation will also increase the likelihood of early detection and subsequently, treatment that will present the symptoms from worsening.
"The presence of nausea or vomiting during other times of the day, or even other symptoms such as abdominal pain or headaches, can be a sign of a more serious condition or even other possible causes," Dr Pirakalathanan says.
Do you experience nausea or dizziness in the morning? How do you deal with it?