A nauseated green emoji with a bandaid over its mouth.

Quick Tips to Manage Nausea for RA Patients

Last updated: February 2021

As an RA patient who also lives with a GI condition called Crohn’s disease, I am unfortunately too educated and experienced when it comes to dealing with nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea.

The more I’ve talked with others in the rheumatology community, I’ve heard firsthand how many RA patients also struggle with these persistent symptoms. With more than 10 years of practice, I’ve developed some good insight and helpful tips for managing nausea, and I’m grateful to be able to share those with you below.

What may cause nausea with RA?

Unfortunately, there are a host of things that may cause nausea for RA patients. If you experience nausea and/or GI distress regularly, I always recommend bringing it up to your doctor (either your primary care physician or your rheumatologist should be able to help).

Nausea may be directly due to your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms or any comorbidities you experience with your RA, or it may be related to a medication side effect (such as methotrexate).

I have found that nausea can strike at any time, and I may go from feeling completely fine to absolutely unable to function at the drop of a dime. I imagine I’m not the only one!

Because nausea can really interfere with how I function and enjoy life, I find that it’s best to have several on-hand options for support when the feeling strikes.

8 quick tips to manage nausea

There are so many over-the-counter or non-medicinal items I use to manage my nausea. Some of these you may already have in your home!

1. Salt - For me, a saltine or a salty cracker is my first reach. I keep a baggie of crackers on my nightstand and one in my purse - just so I know with confidence that I have some to reach for if the moment comes. Other options include rice cakes, pretzels, or sometimes peanuts.

2. Ginger - Anything with ginger in it, including hard candies, tea, ginger ale (I usually find that flat ginger ale is best) can help to settle the feelings of nausea.

3. Peppermint - Like ginger, this is another ingredient that can help me fight off nausea. Peppermint tea, peppermint patties, and even peppermint essential oil are things that I keep on hand.

4. Ice cold water - Sometimes, really really cold water in slow sips can help my nausea calm down.

5. Acupressure - Have you seen those motion sickness bands meant for individuals traveling or on a cruise? I swear by them for nausea. They use a piece of plastic inside the wristband to exert pressure on an acupressure point, associated with relieving nausea and vomiting.

6. Slow deep breaths - Usually combined with some of the items higher up on the list, this helps me to center and focus on breathing and anything else that will keep my nausea at bay.

7. Things to avoid: trigger foods and activity directly after eating - If you're able to identify things that correlate with higher levels of nausea for you, I find it's best to avoid them!

8. Split dosing - If your nausea is associated with medications or supplements you take, try spreading out your dosing throughout the day, and taking less medication at each time interval.

Managing nausea long term

If your nausea persists, or none of the above tips help, I’d recommend checking in with your doctor. There are anti-nausea medications that can be used short and long term, and may be more beneficial than the above, over-the-counter remedies.

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