MS & Nausea: Everything you need to know

Many people with MS experience nausea due to dizziness and vertigo or MS medications. We explain how the OMS Recovery Program can help.

Does MS cause nausea?

Yes, MS can cause nausea in a number of different ways:

  • MS dizziness and vertigo is likely to make you feel nauseous. 

  • Many people with MS experience symptoms related to digestion, including dyspepsia, which causes an uncomfortable feeling of fullness and bloating along with pain.  Digestive problems can also lead to nausea. 

  • MS bowel problems can leave you feeling queasy. 

  • You can also feel nausea as a side effect of a number of MS medications. 

  • Another possible cause is due to MS vision problems. Movement in the eyes can conflict with the signal from your position-sensing nerves and inner ear which have not detected the motion and this causes nausea. 

MS and motion sickness

Feeling lightheaded and dizzy as a result of MS is common and can cause nausea. MS may also cause vertigo which is different to being dizzy or lightheaded. MS vertigo is caused when MS damages the pathways that coordinate the sensory, visual, and spatial communications that the brain needs to balance your body. You can feel nausea as a result of MS vertigo where you feel that your surroundings are spinning and moving so fast that you can feel motion sickness. The feeling can last a few seconds or a severe case of vertigo can last for several days. This can lead to nausea, vomiting and double vision.

Sometimes even something moving in your line of vision can cause motion sickness and nausea. 

When this occurs, try to avoid bright lights and sudden movements. Find a place to sit and keep as still as you can. The nausea will disappear when the feeling that you are moving stops. You may also find that anti-motion sickness medication helps.

MS medications that may cause nausea

There are a number of MS medications that may cause side effects such as nausea, including: 

Review your medications with your doctor to make sure that there are no interactions that could be causing the nausea and that you are taking all the medications correctly.

Treating nausea when dealing with MS

Nausea can be really debilitating, making it hard for you to concentrate and socialise. Don’t simply think that nausea is something that you have to put up with. There are a number of things you can do to treat MS nausea:

  • Avoid fried, greasy or sugary foods, in line with the OMS diet. 

  • Don’t assume that the nausea is a result of the MS and get a check-up with your doctor for other possible causes and treatments. 

  • Treat the vertigo using a combination of physiotherapy, diet, exercise and medication — combine all of these by following the OMS recovery program. 

  • Use assistive devices to help you stabilise yourself when you feel dizzy. 

  • Drink plenty of water — dehydration can cause nausea. 

  • Try acupressure.  Pressure point P-6, also called Neiguan, is found near your wrist, on your inner arm. Doing acupressure on this point can help relieve nausea.

  • If you have certain times of day where you feel better, complete tasks during these times and rest when you feel poorly.  

  • Try vestibular rehabilitation — look for a specialist. This is an exercise-based program, to improve balance and reduce problems related to vertigo, vision problems or dizziness.

  • Specific exercises for treating vertigo involving slow head rotations, can help nausea. Never push yourself if you are feeling unwell as safety is the priority. Stay clear of upside-down movements. 

  • Always consult a medical professional before exercising after an attack of vertigo.

What are the next steps?

Nausea can be distressing — if you feel overwhelmed and you don’t know where to start, read through our next steps – we can help you.